Hastings Law Journal


The collateral source rule ("Rule") has been a source of controversy in the courts, legislatures, and among commentators. The Rule provides that a tortfeasor cannot reduce an adverse judgment by the amount of collateral benefits received by the plaintiff. Critics of the Rule argue that it conflicts with the compensation function of tort law and contributes to increased insurance costs. Due to its controversial nature, courts have developed a number of exceptions to the Rule. An evolving exception to the Rule in California pertains to uninsured motorist benefits received pursuant to California Insurance Code section 11580.2. Two California courts of appeal have reached conflicting conclusions regarding the applicability of the Rule to these benefits. The California Supreme Court has agreed to hear one of these cases and, therefore, has an opportunity to resolve this issue. This Note examines the Rule and its applicability to uninsured motorist benefits. It first discusses the Rule and its underlying rationales. The Note then examines three exceptions to the Rule and their underlying rationales. After exploring the uninsured motorists benefit statute, the Note analyzes the two conflicting California cases addressing the applicability of the Rule to uninsured motorist benefits. The Note concludes that the rationales underlying the Rule and its exceptions dictate that the Rule should be applied uniformly to uninsured motorist benefits, except when the plaintiff's insurer has exercised his right of subrogation previously to, or contemporaneously with, the time the insured brings suit against the uninsured motorist.

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