Visitor Question

Dog Bite Liability Question…

Submitted By: Shawn (Houston, TX, USA)

My friend’s dog bit a lady at his apartment. She went to the emergency room and was cleared. My friend paid for the copay, but now the woman wants my friend to pay her the rest of the hospital bill (which the lady’s insurance has already paid).

Is what this lady is asking legal? Why should my friend write a personal check to the woman for the amount that the woman’s insurance paid?

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Shawn,

The answer to your question has to do with what the State of Texas calls the “Collateral Source Rule.” Although some states have either abolished or modified their own collateral source rules, in Texas the common law rule is still alive and well.

What “Collateral Source Rule” means is this:

The courts in Texas have decided if a person is responsible enough to have their own medical insurance and they have paid their premiums, they should not be penalized for doing so when someone or something injures them. In your friend’s case the collateral source rule clearly applies.

Let’s just say the case were to be argued in court. Your friend’s attorney would be barred from even mentioning to the jury the woman had her own medical insurance. If the attorney did there would be an immediate mistrial and that lawyer would be in deep trouble with the judge.

In Texas a person is entitled to be “reimbursed” for her medical bills even if those bills have been paid by their own health insurance plan.

Many people, like yourself feel allowing the injured party to recover money from your friend and collect her insurance at the same time amounts to “double recovery.” Well, Texas Courts would disagree.

If the woman who was bitten by your friend’s dog made her own monetary sacrifices to obtain and maintain her own health insurance, why should your friend receive the advantage of her sacrifices and be “let off the hook” so to speak.

This is the argument made by those who believe the Collateral Source Rule is a good rule; one which should not be amended.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: August 4, 2011

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