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Colorado Supreme Court Refuses to Take Up Wal-Mart’s Challenge to the Collateral Source Rule

By Heidi Culbertson

Bolye, Nelson

March 18, 2019  

Colorado Supreme Court Refuses to Take Up Wal-Mart’s Challenge to the Collateral Source Rule

In the 2018 case of Forfar v. Wal-Mart, 2018 COA 125, Burg Simpson Attorney Nelson Boyle won an important appeal on behalf of Burg Simpson’s client Robert Forfar. Mr. Fofar was represented at trial by several attorneys at the Paul Wilkinson Law Firm. Today, the Colorado Supreme Court refused to take up Wal-Mart’s challenge to this case, and as a result, the Court of Appeals panel’s holding in Forfar remains the law in Colorado.

When an individual has suffered from a personal injury that was the result of the negligence of another party, they are entitled to be “made whole,” by receiving damages paid by the person or company that caused that harm. When the injured person requires medical attention, they are entitled to recover the full amount of the medical bills that were reasonably charged for treatment they received.

Colorado has consistently recognized that those who have intentionally or unintentionally injured another person may not take advantage of any contracted discounts that health insurers might have negotiated on behalf of their injured insureds. The person who has health insurance is entitled to the benefit of that insurance, the person who injured them is not. In the language of the law, the amount an insurer pays for medical care is a collateral source and any discount from the amount billed (under the contract between the injured person and their insurer) comes under a “contract exception” that ensures that the person who causes the injury does not receive the benefit of the injured person’s contract with that injured person’s insurer. Likewise, evidence of the contractual benefit is not given to a jury in order to stop the party responsible for the injury from misleading the jury into unfairly lowering the amount of medical damages.

In the case of Forfar, the Colorado Court of Appeals held that Medicare (just like private insurance) is a contractual health benefit earned through an employee’s years of work and an employee’s contributions, and is similarly entitled to that protection of the discount for injured insureds.  After the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Mr. Forfar, Wal-Mart asked the Colorado Supreme Court to review the case. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Colorado Civil Justice League, and the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America targeted this case in an attempt to chip away at Colorado’s collateral source rule and to stop people who are injured by others from recovering the full amount of their medical injuries. The Colorado Supreme Court’s denial of the petition for certiorari review has established that Colorado’s collateral source rule will continue to stop those who have injured others from reaping a windfall. Instead, Colorado will continue to fight for and protect the full benefit of insurance and Medicare to injured parties.

Burg Simpson Shareholder Brian K. Matise and Burg Simpson Senior Associate Nelson Boyle represented Mr. Forfar in opposition to Wal-Mart’s petition for Certiorari in the Colorado Supreme Court. The Colorado Trial Lawyers Association submitted an amicus curiae brief written by Attorney John Poor in support of Mr. Forfar in the Court of Appeals.

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At the law firm of Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine, our highly-skilled attorneys are dedicated to helping injured people rebuild their lives and thrive after a catastrophic accident or injury. Over the past 4 decades, the firm has handled nearly every kind of personal injury claim, and no other Denver injury attorney has our resources, reputation, or proven track record of success when it comes to assisting injured individuals and their families.

If you have been seriously injured in an incident that was the result of the negligence of another party, it is critical you speak to an attorney who will look out for your best interests.  Every case is different and we can help you understand your rights and options according to Colorado law. The facts that are unique to your particular situation can affect the outcome, so if you have been injured, contact us today by filling out the FREE Case Evaluation form, or calling us at 720-792-5995. We can provide the support and guidance you need to obtain the treatment and compensation you deserve.

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