Ohio Supreme Court Ruling Brings Clarity to Personal Injury Cases, HHM Member Says

  • December 20, 2006

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Today’s Ohio Supreme Court ruling in the closely watched Robinson v. Bates case will bring unprecedented clarity to the way the courts decide personal injury cases, a leading Ohio medical malpractice defense lawyer says.

Shirley J. Christian, a member with Harrington Hoppe & Mitchell, Ltd., based in Youngstown, says the landmark ruling will clear defendants in personal injury cases to show juries whether medical bills cited as evidence by plaintiffs were discounted. In the past, such information was not admissible.

“This ruling will blow away the ‘smoke’ from a lot of personal injury cases,” Atty. Christian said. “Plaintiff’s counsel will no longer be able to wave huge bills that were never paid by anyone in front of a jury and ask to be compensated for them without the defense being able to show that no one paid those amounts.”

Today’s ruling focuses on whether a defendant can introduce evidence that a plaintiff’s medical carriers accepted less than the amount on their bills as full payment. In the Robinson v. Bates case, less than $600 separated the total medical bills cited and the amount the medical coverage actually paid. But in some cases involving more extensive injuries, the gap between the amount cited and the amount paid is much larger.

“One of the favorite practices of plaintiff’s attorneys is to tally up all of a victim’s medical bills and use that number to build damages,” Atty. Christian said. “In the past, even when defendants knew a much lower amount was actually paid, they were forbidden to introduce this fact into Ohio cases.

“Now, that provision is gone, and Ohio juries can finally hear the truth.  Juries will be able to decide the value of injuries based on the true costs incurred by those injured, not exaggerated numbers. The impact of this ruling will extend to every Ohio personal injury case that involves medical coverage.”

Harrington, Hoppe & Mitchell Ltd. is the area’s largest law firm, with nearly 30 attorneys at offices in Youngstown, Warren and Salem. The firm provides comprehensive legal services to corporations, other businesses, non-profit organizations, government agencies and individuals throughout northeastern Ohio.

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For more information, contact:
Dan J. Pecchia, Pecchia Communications LLC, (330) 720-6912, or dan@pecchiacomm.com