Friday, July 24, 2009


By David McCarthy

Personal injury plaintiffs are entitled to recover wages and salary lost even if they continued to receive full pay during their injury-caused absence from work. We recently had to educate a client's boss and, incredibly an insurance adjuster about the "collateral source rule."

The damages a defendant is liable for are not reduced one bit by benefits provided to a plaintiff by a collateral source (e.g., an insurer who pays the medical bills, an employer who continues to pay salary), and evidence of benefits bestowed by a collateral source is not admissible at trial. An adjuster in Louisiana recently asserted that her insured was not answerable for wage loss on the grounds that our client had continued to draw full pay while convalescing. To her credit, the adjuster acknowledged her error when it was demonstrated and offered appropriate compensation for the wage loss. That is more than can be said for the boss.

Despite a painstaking briefing about the collateral source rule, the boss maintained that because the employee had not been docked pay during his absence, seeking compensation for wage loss was immoral and illegal.

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