Tennessee Supreme Court opinion - Non-discounted medical bills

In Dedmon v. Steelman, the Tennessee Supreme Court recently issued an opinion holding that a plaintiff may use entire non-discounted bills when presenting evidence of economic damages to a jury.

In a prior opinion, the Tennessee Supreme Court allowed a provider to use discounted medical bills to be used as evidence of the amount of actual economic damages, but in a limited circumstance. While providers hoped the court would extend the holding to medical malpractice actions/personal injury actions, the court did not do so. Rather, the court upheld the long-standing collateral source doctrine, which states that a defendant may not use evidence of insurance to reduce the amount of economic damages presented at trial.

What does this mean to you?
This means that if the plaintiff has a medical bill for $300,000 from post-discharge related to the subject of the suit and Medicare or private insurance shows that the amount paid/a lien from medicare was reduced to $30,000, the plaintiff is permitted to present the $300,000 bill to the jury without the discount or reduction. A plaintiff must still, however, show that the bills are reasonable. Settlement value and the liability on cases will likely increase based on this opinion.

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Rebecca Adelman