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Collateral source reform passes: Legislature continues focus on improving Missouri’s legal climate

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When a plaintiff wins an injury lawsuit, they deserve to have their medical expenses reimbursed. But currently in Missouri, many plaintiffs are getting much more — a windfall.

Current state law incentivizes plaintiffs and trial attorneys to claim expenses that were reimbursed through other sources or never actually incurred. The result is often an oversized verdict for plaintiffs and their attorneys.

This situation will end under Senate Bill 31, which received final passage by the Missouri House of Representatives and has been sent to Gov. Eric Greitens. Senate Bill 31 was sponsored by Sen. Ed Emery, a Republican from Lamar, and handled in the House by Rep. Joe Don McGaugh, a Republican from Carrolton. The legislation clarifies that in a lawsuit an injured person can recover only the actual cost incurred for medical treatment.

The bill is a continuation of months of work to improve Missouri’s legal climate.

“This may be a cliche statement, but Senate Bill 31 is truly common sense legislation. When someone wins a lawsuit the judgement should cover the actual expenses, not an inflated amount that in no way reflects the actual out of pocket damages,” said Brian Bunten, Missouri Chamber general counsel and director of governmental affairs. “This bill is just one part of the legislature’s work this session to reform Missouri’s legal climate. We’ve seen great progress and we hope for more during the session’s final day.”

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