Throughout the United States, the rules of evidence are typically thought of as rules to keep prejudicial, confusing, or irrelevant information away from juries, but occasionally they are used to advance policy Personal Injury Attorneyobjectives.  Take the example of evidence of medical expenses.

In most states, including South Carolina, evidence of the amount of medical expenses is given by the total value of the medical services rendered to the plaintiff.  The plaintiff’s attorney presents the doctor’s bills and that is the end of it.  The plaintiff is showing the full value of the services caused to be rendered by the incident forming the basis of the trial.

North Carolina, however, in Rule 414 of the NC Rules of Evidence allows only evidence of amounts that were actually paid in satisfaction of the plaintiff’s medical expenses.  At first this seems like little if any difference: amount of the bills vs. the amount paid in satisfaction of the bills.  Most people though have health care insurance, and health care insurers negotiate lower rates with health care providers, thus paying the providers a discounted rate.

This Rule 414 allows defendants and their insurers, to take advantage of the discounted rates negotiated for the benefit of the plaintiff and the plaintiff’s health care insurance company.  The end result is that personal injury verdicts and settlements will be slightly lower in North Carolina than they would have been without the new rule of evidence, as illustrated in the South Carolina example.

North Carolina, along with these rules of evidence employs a much more stringent negligence standard in personal injury cases.  This is known as contributory negligence, which applies to cases where plaintiffs have, through their own negligence, contributed to the harm they suffered, which acts as a complete bar in North Carolina.  South Carolina, utilizes the less stringent standard of comparative fault which serves to compensate a plaintiff who is less than 51% at fault.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident in North or South Carolina, contact the law offices of Reeves, Aiken & Hightower, LLP for a confidential consultation.  We have years of experience in dealing with the differing standards in both states.  Contact us at our Charlotte, North Carolina office at 704-499-9000, or our Fort Mill, South Carolina office at 803-548-4444.