During the 2013 legislative session, automobile insurance companies were pushing HB 2239, a bill that would eliminate the collateral source rule that protects injured people in Arizona.
The collateral source rule is 250 years old. The essence of the rule is that a defendant is not entitled to benefit from payment of a plaintiff’s damages from a “collateral source.” The rule says that, if anyone should benefit from the payment of damages by a collateral source, it should be the victim and not the victimizer.
HB 2239 would change this centuries-old rule to favor only defendants and their automobile insurers. It would allow defendants to introduce evidence of plaintiff’s insurance, but it would not tell the jury about automobile insurance.
Automobile insurers say they want the collateral source rule changed for “transparency,” to “lift back the curtain” for the jury, and to “give the jury the whole picture.” But those automobile insurers only want to show the jury part of the picture. They don’t trust the jury with true transparency and want to keep hidden from the jury the fact that defendant has insurance.
While either parties’ insurance should really not play a role in trial, if you are going to tell the jury about one party’s insurance in the name of “transparency,” shouldn’t you tell the jury about everyone’s insurance?
Geoff Trachtenberg is a partner at Levenbaum Trachtenberg, a personal injury law firm located in Arizona, California, and Utah. You can find him on Google+ and Avvo discussing law and helping people with their legal needs.