Illinois Appellate Court Has Ruled That Jury Verdicts for Medical Bills in Injury Cases Cannot Be Reduced by the Amount the Health Provider Writes Off

In the opinion written by the Illinois Appellate Court for the 4th District, the appellate court upheld the right of an injured plaintiff to recover the full amount of medical expenses if that amount had been written off by the medical provider.

In the underlying case, a Coles County jury entered a verdict in favor of the plaintiff Harold Miller for $133,347 for medical expenses in his July 2015 medical-malpractice trial. The 5th Judicial Circuit Court judge reduced the verdict by $91,724 when the defendant hospital and doctor argued that such a number represented an amount of money that neither Miller nor his health-care provider had a right to recover since it was written off in his medical bills.

The defendants brought their motion to reduce the medical expenses award under Section 2-1205 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure. The statute provides that recovery amounts can be reduced by up to 100% of the benefits provided for medical, hospital, nursing or care-taking charges that have either already been paid or become payable to the injured party.

The statute was passed in the 1970s and applied during times when medical patients would pay their bills directly and subrogation-right clauses were not nearly as popular with health insurance companies as they are today.

The defendants in the Miller case used the longstanding statute’s language to argue that Miller was not entitled to recover the $91,724 because no one had a right to recoup the written-off portion of his medical expense verdict. The judge reduced the verdict by that amount last August, 2015.

However, the Illinois Appellate Court for the 4th District ruled that write-offs are not the same things as payments, so the plain language of the defendant’s cited statute does not apply to their case.

“The statute does not allow a verdict to be reduced by the amount of the bills which have been satisfied or the value of the benefit to the plaintiff.” Continuing, it was written, “instead, it only allows a verdict to be reduced by the amount paid to the medical providers or payable to the plaintiff.”

There was a lot of interest in this case by both the plaintiff’s bar and the defense bar. Amicus curiae briefs were filed by the Illinois Association of Trial Defense Counsel and the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association.

The defense bar cited another case from 2013 that was claimed to have yielded a contrary result on near identical facts.  Some say the decision of the Illinois Appellate Court here may be appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Harold Miller v. Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center, et al., 2016 IL App (4th) 150728.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling automobile crash cases, medical malpractice cases, brain injury cases, truck accident cases and motorcycle accident cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 40 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Melrose Park, Crete, Cicero, Lyons, LaGrange, Kenilworth, Justice, Hinsdale, Hillside, Hickory Hills, Glenwood, Barrington, Barrington Hills, Bedford Park, North Riverside, Stickney, Steger, South Holland, South Barrington, Rosemont, Chicago (Marquette Park, Brighton Park, Little Village, Archer heights, Midway, Garfield Ridge, Garfield Park, Belmont Heights, Polish Village, Roscoe Village, Clybourn Corridor, Wicker Park, Bridgeport, Stockyards, Bronzeville, Oakland, Chatham, Lake Calumet), Harvey and Calumet City, Ill.

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