In most personal injury lawsuits, medical bills make up a large portion of the damages that the Plaintiff is seeking in the suit. Still, in others, the pain and suffering portion of the damages being sought are based heavily on the amount of medical bills. In other words, if the injured Plaintiff has a lot of medical bills, it follows hand-in-hand that she has suffered a great deal and should be awarded for this inconvenience, suffering and pain. In order to place the correct emphasis on medical bills, the proper jury charge is critical. One such charge addresses the concern that the jury may assume there is health insurance which covers (and has paid for) the medical bills being sought by the Plaintiff and addresses the Georgia legal concept of collateral estoppel. It is as follows:
If you find the Plaintiff is entitled to damages, you should give no consideration to other potential sources of payment or benefit to either party as you consider the issue of damages. You are not permitted to consider or speculate whether the Plaintiff has been or will be compensated, in whole or in part, by any other source or whether some third-party has made or will make any payment for expenses or damages that you find the Plaintiff has suffered as a result of the matters alleged in this case.
In other words, it should be on no concern to the jury as to whether the Plaintiff has medical insurance that may cover some or all of the medical bills being sought in the case nor should the jury guess or speculate about this. In addition, with the advent of document production and editing software, it is much easier to make redactions in bills so that references to insurance are removed from the jury’s purview and this, at a minimum should be done in every case in which the medical bills will be going back to the jury as an exhibit to consider and take into account in order to arrive at an amount of damages that will fairly and adequately compensate the Plaintiff in the lawsuit. In order to protect against the jury penalizing the Plaintiff for making the correct legal redactions, the Plaintiff attorney in the case should strongly consider a jury charge such as the following: