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December 1, 2009 - Court Rules in Long-Running Insurance Feud

A California court has ruled in a long-fought legal battle between insurance companies and accident victims over who pays for medical care, and how much.

Under California law, injury victims can seek damages from those at fault without deducting their own insurance benefits. The long-running dispute is whether damages should be measured by their total medical bills, or by a lesser amount their insurer pays to resolve them, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Monday.

In San Diego County, an appeals court said the insurance company for a trucking firm at fault in a traffic accident must pay the full amount of the woman victim's medical bills, $190,000, the Chronicle said.

This overturned a trial judge's ruling that they only had to pay $60,000, the settlement amount the woman's insurance company reached with two hospitals for her care.

For years, judges had said that insurance companies for those at fault in accidents only had to pay the amount the victim's insurance settled with hospitals and doctors, typically considerably less than the actual bills.

Lawyers in the case said the battle is likely headed for the state Supreme Court.

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