More Deform Hurting You - And Response (2)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Well, just saw another bill was submitted in Nashville that would take benefits responsible victims secured for themselves and give them to drunk drivers.  It has been masked as the "phantom damages" bill.   

So when the drunk driver takes you out at an intersection, the legislature wants to take away any deductions and benefits you get through your own health coverages that you paid for yourself and give that to the drunk driver.  Bravo.  

This will also hurt BCBS subrogation recoveries.

Jay Kennamer

McMahan Law Firm 

* * * 

If the Phantom Damages Elimination Act proposed by a Tennessee legislator were to become law, recovery of damages for personal injury would be limited. In order to form an opinion whether the bill should be passed or defeated, one must know the limitation sought to be imposed. 

The bill limits only one item of recovery for personal injury, namely, medical expenses. Tennessee law provides that an injured person may recover for past and future medical expenses shown by expert testimony to have been incurred or which are expected to be incurred by reason of the injury. 

If an injured party has health insurance (for example, with BCBS or Medicare), doctors, hospitals and other health care providers probably have agreed in advance to accept less than the actual amount of their medical bills. If so, the injured party pays part of the bills (for example, co-pays and deductibles), and the health insurer pays part of the bills. The remainder of the bills is "written off" or forgiven. 

The health care providers may not recover and the injured party is not liable for the amount of the medical bills which has been forgiven. Under current Tennessee law, however, the injured party, nonetheless, may seek recovery of all of the medical bills. At a trial, the jury would hear testimony about all of the medical bills and would not be told about the fact that part of the bills had been written off and was not owed by the injured party. If the jury awarded the injured party money for the amount of the bills which had been forgiven, the party could keep the money and could not be required to share it with the health care providers. 

The bill seeks to change Tennessee law to provide that the injured party cannot recover the amount of medical bills which was written off. The party could still recover out-of-pocket payments and payments by the health insurer. The bill does not contain any limitation upon recovery of future medical expenses. 

The right of recovery by health insurers would not be affected in any manner. In fact, the bill states specifically that subrogation rights are not altered. 

Don Strickland 

* * *  

However well intended the legislation is, it penalizes the wrong party.  The wrongdoer should be held responsible for all the harm he or she causes.  A party injured by the tortious act (whether intentional or negligence) of another is entitled to recover the reasonable value of necessary medical services.  Presumably, the legislature is seeking to define "reasonable" as what an insurer pays to reimburse a medical provider for services rendered.  In essence, then, the law would punish the victim (and reward the wrongdoer) by precluding the victim from recovering from the wrongdoer for all the harm that he caused, because, the legislature has determined, the original amount of the medical expenses is unreasonable.   

If the legislature believes that the cost of medical care is too expensive and that the lesser amount negotiated by insurers constitutes what is reasonable for the services rendered, then it should regulate the medical industry directly, not through restricting the rights of injured parties. 

Trevor Atchley


Send Your Opinions To Chattanoogan.com

We welcome your opinions at Chattanoogan.com. Email to news@chattanoogan.com . We require your real first and last name and contact information. There is no word limit, but if your article is too long you may lose your reader. Please focus more on issues than personal attacks. (click for more)

David Carroll: How About A Little Help For Officer Mark Garner?

I hope there’s someone in your life that you can say this about: “If I was stranded on the side of the road with an empty tank, I could call (enter name here) and he’d be here in no time!” Mark Garner is that person for me. I met Mark more than 20 years ago, in his early days as a DARE officer.  DARE stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education, and has been in many schools ... (click for more)

Deonta Banks, 23, Shot On Wilcox Boulevard Early Sunday Morning

Deonta Banks, 23, was shot early Sunday morning on Wilcox Boulevard. At approximately  3 a.m.  the Chattanooga Police Department responded to shots fired at 3232 Wilcox Boulevard.  Upon arrival, Chattanooga police located a single victim, Deonta Banks, suffering from a non life-threatening gunshot wound. He  was transported to a local hospital for treatment. ... (click for more)

Man Stabbed In Domestic Dispute On Sunrise Lane Saturday Morning

A man was stabbed Saturday morning on Sunrise Lane.   At approximately  11:41  a.m., the Chattanooga Police Department responded to a reported stabbing at 309 Sunrise Lane.  Officers located a 45-year-old black male suffering from a non life-threatening stab wound. The victim was transported to a local hospital for his injury.   The ... (click for more)

Notre Dame Earns State Duals Berth With 45-33 Win

The Notre Dame wrestling team is peaking at the right time. It's been an up and down season for the Fighting Irish and for the first time all year, they have a full lineup. And now they can start making plans for next weekend's State Duals in Franklin after beating East Ridge for the second time in three days. The Irish beat East Ridge by eight points on Thursday night ... (click for more)

McCurdy's Clutch 3 Leads Bears Past Blue Raiders, 65-62

CLEVELAND, Tenn. – First place in District 5-AAA was up for grabs Saturday when bitter rivals  Cleveland and Bradley Central – both boys and girls – squared off at Jim Smiddy Arena. The Bearettes seized it. The Bears scrambled atop the standings as well. Bradley Central, scoring eight points in the final 35.9 seconds, including Bradley McCurdy clutch 3-pointer, ... (click for more)