Howell v. Hamilton Meats is a landmark case in California personal injury law, and a favorite weapon used by insurance companies to reduce payments to injury victims. The essence of the Howell case is that a personal injury victim's recovery is limited by the actual payment from their health insurance. This means that if your hospital bill was $30,000, but your health insurance only paid $800 to the hospital as full payment, then your personal injury recovery is limited by the $800. The $30,000 number can never be presented to a jury. Sounds outlandish, yet these are not fictional numbers. This is from an actual case that we tackled.
If faced with the Howell challenge, the victim is already at a disadvantage. Usually, this is caused by a victim not getting professional legal help early in the game. However, many cases can be salvaged through careful analysis. For example, the Sanchez case carves out gratuitous medical bill write-offs. Not all insurance adjusters, unfortunately, are well-informed about the many carve-outs. We are always glad to provide them with additional legal knowledge, but occasionally, we have no choice but to file a lawsuit. Once a lawsuit is filed, the case is almost always re-assigned with a different negotiator who is more knowledgeable about the law.
You should discuss your strategy with a legal professional. Always feel free to call us at 408-890-7925