Can Medicare Take My Settlement?
It’s a scenario that could happen to anyone: You’re in an accident, whether at work or in the real world, and hurt by someone being malicious or, much more often, negligent. You’ve done the research, found a lawyer, given them everything you can to help your case, and then you find out you may not get all the money promised to you. But how does this happen, and what can you do to avoid it?
This is a scary time, as you’re hurt and the medical and justice systems are messy. The first thing to do is to find a lawyer who knows the applicable laws inside and out. They’ll be especially helpful if you have to think about factors like Medicare, which, while a necessity for most people, can also make your case even more complicated. When you’re looking for someone to represent you, keep in mind their experience level, fees and costs, and the jurisdiction they serve. A Surrey personal injury lawyer will obviously be a better fit for you than a Manitoba barrister if you live in Surrey, and vice versa.
You’ll want to give them the receipt for every cost you’ve incurred after your accident, down to how much you’ve spent on gas getting to and from every appointment. This will give them a better idea of what amount to ask for in your claim and eventual and probable settlement. As a general rule, the medical costs will be added together and multiplied by either three or five. This amount is known as your “pain and suffering” and can act as a buffer to offset your time-off while recovering from your trauma, or for future medical costs. A cut on the hand could mean no more than a minor surgery and a few weeks of physical therapy. A near-death experience, on the other hand, could include major surgery, long bouts of physical and occupational therapy, and maybe even counseling sessions for your mental health. The more complete your records, the better of an idea you have for what you should be asking and what you may expect to deal with in the future.
Another reason to keep specific records is if you have Medicare that’s covering you during this time (which it will, depending on what your quote for Medicare insurance was when you first inquired), as it will need to be paid back. This is also why it’s important to find a lawyer. This part of the process can be tricky, and with the right professional, you may be able to negotiate that figure down.
Medicare will put a lien on the settlement for the medical costs incurred, but it may also find ways to make claims on other costs that will be covered by the defendant or their own insurance company. This is why it’s integral to keep detailed records to show what is and isn’t actually owed to them so that your lawyer can better argue down your lien. Settling their claims can be a quick process: some straightforward cases are even done within 45 days. But the more severe your injuries and the more treatments you need for them, the longer it can take to reach a number that will satisfy both parties.
Once this is done, you’ll work out what you owe your lawyer, as most personal injury lawyers work on contingency. Depending on the firm you’ve selected, you’ll pay 30 to 40 percent of what you’ve been awarded, and the rest can go to your family.