A prevailing plaintiff should be entitled to recover the full cost of her medical care, even if her private insurer paid a smaller, negotiated amount to cover all of her hospital and doctor bills, California’s 4th District Court of Appeal panel held Monday.

The decision overturns a San Diego County Superior Court ruling that cut plaintiff Rebecca Howell’s jury award for medical expenses from $189,978 to $59,691 on the grounds that she should only recover the amount her insurer, PacifiCare, paid to settle her bills, not the initial amount her medical providers charged. Howell suffered severe neck injuries when the driver of a Hamilton Meats & Provisions truck made an illegal U-turn and struck her car.

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