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Introduced Version Senate Bill 598 History

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sb598 intr
Senate Bill No. 598

(By Senators Sprouse, Yoder, Barnes, Facemyer,

Guills, Weeks, Minear and Lanham)

____________

[Introduced March 18, 2005; referred to the Committee

on the Judiciary.]

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A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new section, designated §55-7-23, relating to reducing court judgments in claims for injury or property damage for economic loss by amounts a plaintiff receives from collateral sources.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new section, designated §55-7-23, to read as follows:
ARTICLE 7. ACTIONS FOR INJURIES.
§55-7-23. Reduction in economic damages for economic losses for payments from collateral sources for the same injury.

(a) Definitions:
(1) "Collateral sources" means a source of benefits or advantages for economic loss that a plaintiff receives from:
(A) Any federal or state act, public program or insurance which provides payments for medical expenses, disability benefits, including Workers' Compensation benefits, or other similar benefits. Benefits payable under the federal Social Security Act are not considered payments from collateral sources except for Social Security disability benefits directly attributable to the injury in question;
(B) Any contract or agreement of any group, organization, partnership or corporation to provide, pay for or reimburse the cost of medical, hospital, dental, nursing, rehabilitation, therapy or other health care services or provide similar benefits;
(C) Any group accident, sickness or income disability insurance, any casualty or property insurance (including automobile and homeowners' insurance) which provides medical benefits, income replacement or disability coverage, or any other similar insurance benefits, except life insurance, to the extent that someone other than the insured, including the insured's employer, has paid all or part of the premium or made an economic contribution on behalf of the plaintiff; or
(2) "Economic damages" includes, but is not limited to, damages for medical care, rehabilitation services, lost earnings or other economic losses. It does not include damages for noneconomic losses.
(3) "Noneconomic loss" means losses, including, but not limited to, pain, suffering, mental anguish and grief.
(4) "Plaintiff" means an individual, or his or her representative, who brings a tort action theory of liability.
(5) "Representative" means the spouse, parent, guardian, trustee, attorney or other legal agent of another.
(b) In any tort action, regardless of the theory of liability, other than actions subject to article seven-b of this chapter, arising after the effective date of this section, a defendant who has been found liable to the plaintiff for damages for economic damages may present to the court, after the trier of fact has rendered a verdict, but before entry of judgment, evidence of payments the plaintiff receives for the same injury from collateral sources.
(c) In any hearing pursuant to subsection (b) of this section, the defendant may present evidence of future payments from collateral sources if the court determines that: (1) There is a preexisting contractual or statutory obligation for the collateral sources to pay the benefits; (2) the benefits, to a reasonable degree of certainty, will be paid to the plaintiff for expenses the trier of fact has determined the plaintiff will incur in the future; and (3) the amount of the future expenses is readily reducible to a sum certain.
(d) In the hearing pursuant to subsection (b) of this section, the plaintiff may present evidence of the value of payments or contributions he or she has made to secure the right to the benefits paid by the collateral source.
(e) After hearing the evidence presented by the parties, the court shall make the following findings of fact:
(1) The total amount of damages for economic loss found by the trier of fact;
(2) The total amount of damages for each category of economic loss found by the trier of fact;
(3) The total amount of allowable collateral source payments received or to be received by the plaintiff for the damages which was the subject of the verdict in each category of economic loss; and
(4) The total amount of any premiums or contributions paid by the plaintiff in exchange for the collateral source payments in each category of economic loss found by the trier of fact.
(f) The court shall subtract the total premiums the plaintiff was found to have paid in each category of economic loss from the total collateral source benefits the plaintiff received with regard to that category of economic loss to arrive at the net amount of collateral source payments.
(g) The court shall then subtract the net amount of collateral source payments received or to be received by the plaintiff in each category of economic loss from the total amount of damages awarded the plaintiff by the trier of fact for that category of economic loss to arrive at the adjusted verdict.
(h) The court shall not reduce the verdict rendered by the trier of fact in any category of economic loss to reflect:
(1) Amounts paid to or on behalf of the plaintiff which the collateral source has a right to recover from the plaintiff through subrogation, lien or reimbursement;
(2) Amounts in excess of benefits actually paid or to be paid on behalf of the plaintiff by a collateral source in a category of economic loss;
(3) The proceeds of any individual disability or income replacement insurance paid for entirely by the plaintiff; and
(4) The assets of the plaintiff or the members of the plaintiff's immediate family.
(i) After determining the amount of the adjusted verdict, the court shall enter judgment.




NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to
reduce court judgments in claims for personal injury or property damage for economic loss by amounts a plaintiff receives from collateral sources.

This section is new; therefore, strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.

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