Applying the Collateral Source Rule in Personal Injury Trials: Medical Expenses, Insurance Write-Offs

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926
Course Materials

This CLE course will guide counsel in personal injury cases on contending with new applications of the collateral source rule and increasingly contentious battles over a reasonably incurred medical expense. Defendants have been asserting and using the collateral source rule to exclude evidence of the plaintiff's medical expenses by claiming that write-offs and lower reimbursement rates mean that the full amount of the medical costs were not "incurred." The panelist will review how states have responded, identify the parties' strategies, and explain how differences in hospitals' and insurers' reimbursement and recovery of costs and expenses impact these issues and how the collateral source rule affects damages and recovery.


The collateral source rule provides that if the plaintiff receives benefits from someone other than the defendant tortfeasor, such "collateral" benefits are not revealed to the jury, not introduced into evidence, and not deducted from the total damages awarded to the plaintiff. In recent times, the types and number of "collateral sources" available to plaintiffs have increased: union benefits, veterans' facility treatment, charity-affiliated reduced rates, and more.

The law in every jurisdiction allows plaintiffs to recover the "reasonable value" of the medical services incurred. Defining "reasonable medical expense" has become less clear, more contentious, and the subject of increased litigation and legislation.

Defendants have begun objecting to medical bills identified in an exhibit list or via a motion in limine filed shortly before trial claiming that such medical expenses are neither "reasonable" nor "incurred" by the plaintiff. Defendants argue the bills were not actually "incurred" by the plaintiff because a collateral source paid them (e.g., private health insurance, state Medicaid, Medicare, workers' compensation, governmental assistance programs, etc.).

States have generally adopted one of three basic approaches on medical expenses that can be introduced into evidence and how much can be recovered.

Listen as Martin A. Levinson, Partner at Hawkins Parnell & Young, discusses medical expenses, insurance write-offs, and the collateral source rule in personal injury cases.



  1. Overview and history of collateral source rule
  2. Historical ways of proving reasonable and incurred medical expenses
  3. How have defendants begun challenging the admissibility of medical expenses?
  4. Three approaches to introducing medical expense damages


The panelist will review these and other key issues:

  • What is the collateral source rule?
  • What are collateral sources?
  • What is an "incurred" medical expense?
  • What are the different approaches taken by the states for introducing medical expenses?


Levinson, Martin
Martin A. Levinson

Hawkins Parnell & Young

Mr. Levinson represents businesses and individuals in all phases of the litigation process, from pre-suit investigation...  |  Read More

Wilson, Zachary
Zachary M. Wilson, III

Hawkins Parnell & Young

Mr. Wilson defends a wide variety of litigation arising from personal injury and wrongful death involving premises...  |  Read More

Access Anytime, Anywhere

Strafford will process CLE credit for one person on each recording. All formats include course handouts.

To find out which recorded format will provide the best CLE option, select your state:

CLE On-Demand Video