Sometime prior to July of 2009, a rear-end car accident occurred in Bowling Green, Kentucky that lead to a lawsuit between Mr. Norman Peters and Ms. Katherine Wooten. As a result of the rear-end car accident, Mr. Peters sued Ms. Wooten. (See Peters v. Wooten, 297 S.W.3d 55 (Ky.App.2009)). In Peters, Mr. Peters was rear-ended by Ms. Wooten in a car accident. Mr. Peters’ head hit the glass in back of the truck cab and paramedics arrive on the scene. Mr. Peters refused treatment and was able to drive home. Id. Ms. Wooten’s vehicle was totaled. Id. A short while after, Mr. Peters claimed he began to suffer severe headaches and neck pain. Id. So, two days after the accident he went to a doctor and had x-rays taken and an MRI. Id. Then, Mr. Peters had no more medical treatment for 3 months, though he said he complained of neck and headaches from the car accident. Id.
At trial, Mr. Peters had two doctors testify via video depositions wherein both stated that the injuries were as a result of the accident and where one said that Mr. Peters had a degenerative disc disease and that though the accident did not cause that, it may have caused aggravation to a preexisting condition. Id. Neither doctor reviewed Mr. Peters’ prior medical history before the accident. Id. Further, at trial, Mr. Peter’s wife testified as to how injured he was and that she knew something bad was wrong with him. So, on cross examination, Ms. Wooten’s car accident attorney asked Mr. Peter’s wife why her husband did not go to therapy in 3 months if he was so injured, and to that she responded that they could not afford it. Id. But, when she was asked why he did not use the $10,000 in medical benefits coverage available to him, she finally relented and responded that there were monies available but that she did not know the amount. Id. Mr. Peters’ car accident lawyer objected as improper reference to collateral source benefits, but the trial court overruled. Id.
The below video is not a video of the rear-end car acciden involving Mr. Peters and Ms. Wooten, but is just an interesting video showing a rear-end car accident for my blog readers.
The appellate court held that the trial court’s rulings were proper and that the jury’s verdict for the defense was valid. Id. As to the collateral source benefits rule, the appellate court stated that usually, “a tortfeasor is not entitled to any credit against what he owes for payments of medical expenses or disability benefits paid by a collateral source to the tort victim pursuant to a contractual obligation owed to the victim from the collateral source….” Id. The sound reasoning for this rule does have a few exceptions. Id. And, one of those exceptions is where “the possibility of malingering exists by the claimant, particularly where a plaintiff may be exaggerating his injury for recovery, evidence relating to a claimant’s receipt of compensation may be admissible.” Id. The malingering exception is used to prevent a plaintiff from misleading the jury. Id. This prevents a plaintiff from embellishing his situation of not being able to afford medical treatment when in reality; there were monies available to him. Id. Thus, the appellate court ruled that the defense bringing in the collateral source after the plaintiff has put into issue hardship and financial distress was allowable to rebut this contention. Id.
If you have been the subject of a Louisville car accident matter, please call and speak to a Louisville personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of Andrew S. Alitowski at 888-ASK-ANDREW (275-2637) or contact us online. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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