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Rudnicki v. Bianco.

2021 CO 80. No. 19SC631. Pre-Majority Medical Expenses—Tortious Injuries to a Child—Common Law.

December 13, 2021

This case required the Supreme Court to determine who may recover damages for the medical expenses that an unemancipated child incurs before turning 18 years old. In particular, the Court considered whether to adhere to a common law rule under which only a minor plaintiff’s parents may recover tort damages for medical expenses incurred by their unemancipated minor child.

The Court concluded that the traditional rationales for the common law rule no longer apply and that the realities of today’s health-care economy no longer support the rule’s retention. Accordingly, the Court abandoned the common law rule and concluded that in cases involving an unemancipated minor child, either the child or the child’s parents may recover the child’s pre-majority medical expenses, but double recovery is not permitted. In light of this disposition, the Court need not address whether the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing may assert a lien in this case, such that an exception to the common law rule applies.

Accordingly, the Court reversed the judgment of the division below and remanded this case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Official Colorado Supreme Court proceedings can be found at the Colorado Supreme Court website.

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