In addition to pain and suffering, most personal injury cases cause the injured party to incur medical treatment and associated costs. However, depending upon certain contracts of the health care provider, the amounts charged for medical treatment can far exceed the amount of the financial obligation of the patient to the medical provider. How does Missouri law treat a claim for medical expenses?
Missouri Revised Statute Section 490.715(5)(1) provides in pertinent part that, “parties may introduce evidence of the actual cost of the medical care or treatment rendered to a plaintiff or a patient whose care is at issue.” The statute defines actual cost as “a sum of money not to exceed the dollar amounts paid by or on behalf of a plaintiff or a patient whose care is at issue plus any remaining dollar amount necessary to satisfy the financial obligation for medical care or treatment by a health care provider after adjustment for any contractual discounts, price reduction, or write-offs by any person or entity.” See § 490.715(5)(2).
Although this statute discusses admission of the dollar amount which represents the amount necessary to satisfy the financial obligation for medical treatment, in Brancati v. Bi-State Dev. Agency, 571 S.W.3d 625, (Mo. App. E.D. 2018), the Missouri Court of Appeals seized upon the language “may introduce” and held that an injured party may also introduce into evidence the charged amounts of the medical bills. The Court concludes that charged amounts are admissible given the above referenced statute does not specifically preclude charged amounts.
Given that many believe the Missouri legislature is at odds with the interpretation of the Missouri Eastern District Appellate Court, we expect to hear more on this topic in the future. However, based upon current Missouri law, if an injured party decides to make a claim for medical expenses, both the amounts charged and the amounts due and owing will be admissible.