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Enduring Doctrine: The Collateral Source Rule In Wisconsin Injury Law


When the common law collateral source rule first arose in the area of tort law over one hundred years ago, only a minority of individuals maintained health insurance coverage to protect against loss in the event that a negligent actor injured them. Today, however, the vast majority of Americans are covered. Because of this change in the landscape of insurance coverage, many jurisdictions have abrogated or greatly eroded the collateral source rule under the belief that the rule no longer holds a justified role in personal injury litigation. Wisconsin, however, continues to follow the common law form of the rule and recently rejected legislation that would have effectively abrogated it. Wisconsin is not alone; many jurisdictions still adhere to the common law collateral source rule, and find support from many voices in the legal community. This support is grounded in the belief that the rationales that have long said to justify the rule still maintain their significance. This Comment agrees with them and argues that, while the collateral source rule may have its shortcomings, the many justifications for the common law form of the rule remain crucially valid today and are significantly overlooked by the suggested alternatives.

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