After all these years, rear-end car accidents still produce new law. Here, the court of appeals held that evidence of Medicaid benefits were properly excluded by the collateral source rule. Under CRS 10-1-135, any collateral source payment is excluded from evidence. Medicaid payments are a collateral source, and the statute abrogated the common law “gratuitous government benefits exception.” Plaintiffs’ claims against ANS, the company insuring the car, were dismissed; thus, ANS as the prevailing party was entitled to costs but not fees because the claims were not frivolous. The remaining issues got short shrift: 1) the sudden emergency doctrine has been abolished; 2) a party who requests a hearing on costs is entitled to one; 3) Plaintiffs were awarded appellate fees because Defendants frivolously argued for a new trial under CRCP 59 based on a requirement that did not exist.
Tag Archives: Sudden Emergency
James C. Smith and Dona Laurita, v. Alan W. Kinningham and Accelerated Network Solutions, Inc., 2013COA,103 (July 3, 2013)
The Sudden Emergency Doctrine is now abolished in Colorado. So held the Supreme Court in this case. This decades-old doctrine instructed that people confronted with a sudden unexpected circumstance are not required to use the same judgment as under normal circumstances. In 2011, the Court seemed to re-affirm the doctrine. But, as pointed out in one dissent, nothing has changed since 2011. The doctrine of stare decisis would normally maintain the established rule; but not here. The facts were this: car slid on a patch of ice and hit another car. The jury was given the sudden emergency instruction and found for Defendant; the court of appeals affirmed. After finding it was an error to give the instruction, the Court abolished the rule. Noting that juries already assess the reasonableness of actions under the circumstances, the Court held it is no longer useful and may be misleading.