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Charity begins at home. And there it should stay, assuming the donor so intended. To promote the charitable impulse, courts apply the collateral source rule to gratuitous payments (including moneys to cover lost wages) by family or friends to assist tort victims through difficult times. Under the collateral source rule, plaintiffs in personal injury actions can still recover full damages even though they already have received compensation for their injuries from such 'collateral sources' as medical insurance. (Pacific Gas & Electric Co. v. Superior Court (1994) 28 Cal. App. 4th 174, 176 [33 Cal. Rptr. 2d 522].) The idea is that tortfeasors should not recover a windfall from the thrift and foresight of persons who have actually or constructively secured insurance, pension or disability benefits to provide for themselves and their families. A contrary rule, it is feared, would misallocate liability for tort-caused losses and discourage people from obtaining benefits from independent collateral sources. (Helfend v. Southern Cal. Rapid Transit Dist., supra, 2 Cal. 3d at pp. 13-14.) 


Helfend is the leading case. The court rejected defense efforts to introduce evidence that about 80 percent of an injured motorist's medical bills had been paid ...

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