If you talk to an attorney about medical bills relating to your accident, you have probably heard the name Robinson v. Bates (or RVB). When you buy health insurance, your insurance company allows you to go to doctors within a particular network. These doctors and the insurance company have worked out a deal that the insurance company will receive a discount when they pay bills, this is called a write-off. The Ohio Supreme Court in Robinson v. Bates articulated that this write-off is not a benefit and, therefore, is not barred by the collateral source rule. The collateral source rule, or collateral source doctrine, is an American case law evidentiary rule that prohibits the admission of evidence that the plaintiff or victim has received compensation from some source other than the damages sought against the defendant.

When you are injured in a car accident, your health insurance works in a similar way. When you are injured in a car accident you go to see your doctors and those doctors will bill your health insurance. The insurance company will pay their share of the bill, you will pay your share, and the difference between the actual bill and the paid amount (by you and the insurance company) is written-off.  So what does all this mean when it comes to your auto claim?

While this shouldn’t affect your claim, in reality this reduces the amount of compensation your claim is worth. For example, if you have back surgery as a result of the accident and the cost is 30K, you would think that you would get to bring that number to a jury. However, if the insurance company only pays 5K for the surgery, meaning there is a 25K write-off, the defendant can show the write-off number to the jury. While the defendant cannot show the 5K number to the jury, the jury can do the simple math of 30K-25K to reach the 5K number. Thus, reducing the amount of your claim.

If you’re thinking that this isn’t fair, you’re right. After the at-fault party injures you, the at-fault party then has the ability to use the benefits YOU paid for. If you have been injured due to a car accident, don’t give up, get help.