Verdict - Spring 2016 - (Page 20)

> FEATURE STORY What is the Plaintiff's Burden in Proving the Value of Medical Expenses? BY ASHLEY B. FOURNET I ncreasingly, defense lawyers are challenging the reasonableness of medical charges incurred by plaintiffs in personal injury cases. These challenges were initially motivated by attempts to undermine medical funding companies' charges, but they now extend to cases involving other collateral source payments. In these cases, defense attorneys are seeking to claim that the reasonable value is the amount accepted by the provider as opposed to the amount charged. The impetus for these expanded challenges to the value of bills is the Supreme Court of Georgia's decision of Bowden v. Medical Center, Inc.,1 a case involving the reasonableness of a healthcare lien pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 44-14-470. The challenges to the reasonableness of bills incurred beg the question, what is a plaintiff's attorney's obligation in proving the reasonable and customary value of bills? And has Bowden changed the manner in which bills can be undermined by defense counsel in tort cases? In analyzing a plaintiff's obligations regard- the harm, that was all that was necessary for ing medical expenses, it is useful first to review proving expenses. 3 But even in these early the history of the proof required and how the cases, it is clear that the reasonableness of concept of the reasonable value of expenses the bills could be attacked by the defense. 4 entered through case law and a pattern jury Now, however, there appears to be precedent instruction. The second part of this article that a plaintiff must meet this burden at the addresses what impact Bowden may have on outset, prior to attack. The current pattern jury this burden, and the final section discusses instruction entitled "Medical Expenses"5 pro- some practical ways to handle defense chal- vides that damages are limited to the reason- lenges to the value of medical expenses. able value of medical expenses. It specifically provides as follows: 20 Georgia Trial Lawyers Association THE PLAINTIFF'S BURDEN IN In all cases, necessary expenses PROVING MEDICAL EXPENSES resulting from the injury are a Historically, in proving medical expenses, legitimate item of damages. As a plaintiff need only prove the nature of the to medical expenses, such as injury, character of the treatment, services ren- hospital, doctor, and medicine dered, and the amount billed to recover dam- bills, the amount of the damage ages related to medical expenses. 2 Therefore, would be the reasonable value of once a plaintiff properly put his or her bills such expense as was reasonably into evidence, which were necessitated by necessary.6

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Verdict - Spring 2016

President’s Message
GTLA at 60: A Conversation with Tommy Malone
Law Practice and Cloud Computing: Staying Ethical in a Digital World
14 Years in the Making: Justice Delayed, but Not Denied
What is the Plaintiff’s Burden in Proving the Value of Medical Expenses?
An Introduction to Daycare Negligence Cases
Diminished Value Claims: Not Just for Cars Anymore
Seeking Justice for Victims of Child Sexual Abuse
Case Updates: What’s New?
Workers’ Comp: Recent Developments
Civil Justice PAC Contributors
Champion Members
Welcome New GTLA Members!
Notes: What’s New with GTLA Members
Index to Advertisers/

Verdict - Spring 2016