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JAMA 100 Years Ago
August 12, 1998

VALUE OF GRATUITOUS MEDICAL TREATMENT CAN NOT BE RECOVERED.

Author Affiliations
 

Brian P.PaceMA, Assistant Editor

JAMA. 1998;280(6):494B. doi:10.1001/jama.280.6.494B-JJY80025-1-2

That he had been put to great expense for medicines and doctor's bills, was averred by the plaintiff in a personal injury case as one of the elements of damage which he had sustained for which he should be allowed to recover compensation. But the evidence was that he had been taken to a hospital and treated there, without incurring any liability for the medicine and medical attendance. Could the value of such medical treatment, what would have been charged for it, if charged for, be made the foundation of such a claim as that stated? The supreme court of Missouri holds, in the recent case of Morris vs. the Grand Avenue Railway Company, that it could not. The proof of the value of the gratuity exerted in one's behalf in relief of an injury inflicted, it maintains, is in no sense the proof of the expense to which one had been put, or the liability incurred, in the relief from that injury, and that there is no warrant in law or logic for holding to the view that the proof of the onestate of facts justifies the finding of the existence of the other, or that proof of one raises the presumption of the existence of the other. To authorize a recovery on part of the injured plaintiff, there must have been an actual loss to him, or a liability that same may or will occur, and when loss has not or can not occur, by reason of the action of others, gratuitously exercised in behalf of the party injured, or when no legal liability has arisen, by reason of restrictions of law against the intervening third party performing the needful services, it quotes cases to show, no action can be maintained. Nor does it consider that it is any answer to the denial of the defendant that the plaintiff has been put to expense for medical treatment to say that "the defendant in an action for personal injuries caused by his or its negligence ought not to profit by the generosity, charity, or indulgence extended to plaintiff by a third party."

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