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Evidence of Medicare Benefits in Florida Personal Injury Lawsuit

The Supreme Court of Florida recently approved the district court’s decision in a negligence case related to a slip-and-fall. The plaintiff sought to recover past medical expenses due to the fall on the defendant’s property. A jury awarded the plaintiff $34,642 for past medical expenses. On appeal, the plaintiff argued that the trial court abused its discretion in prohibiting her from introducing evidence of the gross amount of her past medical expenses and limiting her to raising only the discounted amounts paid by Medicare.

In analyzing the case, the Court addressed the holding in Joerg v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., 176 So. 3d 1247 (Fla. 2015). In that case, the Court concluded that future Medicare benefits are both uncertain and a liability due to the right of reimbursement that Medicare retains. The Court held that Joerg is not relevant because it set the scope of its holding to evidence concerning future Medicare benefits, which is not in dispute in the current case.

Recent case law from Florida highlights the issues many plaintiffs encounter when trying to recover maximum compensation for their injuries. Generally, Florida’s collateral source rule hinders juries from hearing evidence of a party’s payments from third-party payers. However, a narrow exception carved out in Florida Physician’s Insurance Reciprocal v. Stanley caused significant confusion amongst courts. Further, in Joerg v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., the Court reasoned that where Medicare benefits subjects beneficiaries to CMS’ enforcement tools, including demands for reimbursement, receiving Medicare constitutes a “serious liability.” The Florida Supreme Court also noted that Medicare benefits are too speculative to serve as a basis to reduce a claimant’s future medical damages.

These cases highlight the importance of retaining an experienced attorney who can effectively represent claimants at every stage of a proceeding. Florida’s laws often curtail a party’s future damages, and attorneys should consider this information during case evaluations and pre-trial motions. Further, the Court noted the fundamental prejudicial effect of informing a jury that a party is a beneficiary of government assistance. A well-versed attorney can help injury victims overcome inherent biases and recover the full extent of their damages, including past medical expenses and future medical costs.

Have You Suffered Injuries in a Florida Slip-and-Fall?

If you or someone you love has suffered injuries or died in a Florida accident, contact the lawyers at Friedman Rodman Frank & Estrada. The lawyers on our team have extensive experience handling complex Florida accident claims. We maintain an active practice and have comprehensive knowledge of the various evidentiary, procedural, and substantive laws that govern these claims. In addition to Florida slip-and-fall claims, our office handles cases involving motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, premises liability, and product liability cases. We have recovered significant compensation amounts for our clients through arbitration, mediation, settlements, and litigation. Compensation in these cases typically includes payments for medical expenses, property damage, and pain and suffering. Contact our office at 877-448-8585 to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney on our team.

 

 

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