A collateral source is a source of payments of money that is literally collateral to the tort/personal injury claim. For instance, monies that you may receive as an injured person through your health insurance policy or through the medical payments provision of your auto policy are technically a collateral source and as a general rule your receipt to those payments is inadmissible at trial.Personal injury attorney Brien Roche further explains the collateral source rule below.
The logic behind the collateral source rule is that because you had the good sense to obtain this other form of coverage, it should not work to the benefit of the party that injured you by in any way diminishing your claim.
There has been a great deal of controversy about the collateral source rule in that it allows in effect for double and sometimes triple recovery for the same injury thereby increasing the overall cost of claims.Although there is some logic to that argument the countervailing argument is simply one of fairness i.e. if one party pays to have insurance then that person should be entitled to use it to the full extent without that coverage reducing benefits the injured party might be entitled to receive from the at fault party. Not all states apply the collateral source rule in its pure form. Therefore it is necessary to know what state law is going to goverrn your claim and then what the law is in that jurisdiction. An experienced personal injury lawyer would be sensitive to those issues.
This rule has undergone some different interpretations over the years and is not applied typically in contract cases. Its application may therefore be limited to tort claims.If you have a question about the collateral source rule contact personal injury attorney Brien Roche.
For more information about the collateral source rule see the pages on Wikipedia.