The Collateral Source Rule in Illinois & the Role of Insurance Companies in Personal Injury Cases

What is the Collateral Source Rule in Illinois?

The collateral source rule dictates that evidence of payments  to a plaintiff for personal injury from outside sources, such as insurance, is inadmissible in court. Any damages (aka monetary compensation) that might come from insurance companies (or even social security, workers’ compensation, etc.) in a personal injury case are not allowed to be known by  a jury. Indeed, the jury in a personal injury case is never even allowed to hear the word “insurance.”

Collateral Source in Application

The collateral source rule is somewhat controversial, as it protects insurance companies and can skew jury perceptions in favor of a defendant. For example, if a defendant is being sued for millions of dollars, and the jury assumes that person will have to pay the plaintiff out of pocket, the jury might be sympathetic to the defendant, even though he or she will not have to pay anything at all. Insurance covers it entirely. 

On the other hand, the collateral source rule can also work in the plaintiff’s favor surrounding issues regarding medical payments.  When people have medical insurance, that insurance covers trips to the emergency room, doctors’ visits, physical therapy appointments, etc. At trial, the injured party is allowed to introduce into evidence the full amount of medical bills and not just the reduced amount that Blue Cross, for example, ended up paying on the plaintiff’s behalf. Defendants in personal injury cases argue that only the paid amount is relevant (as compared to the full amount charged), but the collateral source rule prevents the parties from mentioning any payments whatsoever from outside sources. 

The Role of Insurance Companies in Personal Injury Cases

As you may expect, the role of insurance companies during a personal injury case is insidious at worst, and a headache at best. The multi-million (or billion) dollar companies have one goal, and one goal only: to protect their profit margins. As you have probably already guessed , the main goal of the State Farms and Allstates of the world is to resist payment as much as possible. Here are some common tactics insurance companies employee:

  • Delay, block and obstruct: the longer your injury case is in court, the more likely you are to run out of patience waiting for a settlement. This may cause you to drop the case, take a lower settlement, or even run out the clock on the statute of limitations for filing a claim. 
  • Victim blaming: insurance claims adjusters will do their best to shift blame onto you and try to paint you as the negligent party. 
  • Deny claims: they will look for any  crack in your story to exploit your thought process during and after the injury. For instance, if you did not seek immediate medical attention upon injury, the insurance company may try to paint your injuries as insignificant.
  • Open a dialogue: some insurance companies may even request a written statement of the incident to “expedite” the claims process. However, anything you say can be used against you in court, so never give a written statement without consulting a personal injury lawyer first.

Brian Lewis Will Protect Your Rights & Deal With Insurance

Brian Lewis of the Lewis Injury Firm is all-too-familiar with the tactics and motivations of insurance companies during personal injury lawsuits. Brian’s expertise has resulted in over a hundred million dollars in settlements to a myriad of clients, from auto accidents, medical malpractice, nursing home negligence, and more. 

Brian is ready to fight for you. Get in touch today to learn more!

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