No one wants to be involved in a car accident. And no one wants to deal with the repercussions of a collision, especially. This time can be particularly arduous and intimidating – dealing with insurance claims adjusters, obtaining medical treatment and, of course, the medical bills that come along with it. And these bills can be quite expensive. If the other driver was at fault for your car accident, then typically his or her insurance company will be required to pay for your medical treatment. You may be able to use your own health insurance, too, if you did not sign paperwork waiving your right to do so. For others, you may be able to receive government assistance (Medicaid, Medicare or Tricare coverage) to help cover your medical expenses.
If your health insurance helped pay for your medical bills, the insurance company will likely have a right to subrogation against you. This means that because your insurer will have covered some or all of your medical bills, you will have to pay back the insurance company for the amount they covered from any settlement or jury award you receive. The idea behind subrogation is that you are not paid twice for the same damage.
Sometimes, those entities that pay for your medical coverage with have rights to subrogation imposed by statutory law. When it comes to Medicaid, these rights can be found in Section 33-24-56.1 of the Georgia Statutes. Here’s what you should know when it comes to Medicaid and your personal injury case.
For starters, Georgia legislatures enacted a “Make Whole” Statute, known as the Full Compensation Rule, which basically has been deemed an “anti-subrogation” piece of legislation. The essence of this law is to prevent third parties–called collateral sources–(like insurance companies) from asserting subrogation rights against your settlement or jury award if you have not been “made whole,” or fully compensated for your damages.
This law also forbids insurance companies from informing the jury in your personal injury case of the fact that insurers often times pay far below the standard retail price of medical services provided to you that would otherwise be charged by the hospital or clinic that served you. The reason behind this is so that the jury does not undervalue or minimize your damages (not make you whole). However, because Medicaid (and Medicare) is a government assistance program for indigent people, Medicaid also pays well below retail value when paying for your medical treatment. The question then becomes whether Medicaid is also deemed a collateral source under Georgia’s Full Compensation Rule.
In a 2004 court decision out of the Southern District of Georgia, the Court decided that Medicaid, like private insurance companies, are considered collateral sources. Accordingly, the fact that you received Medicaid benefits cannot be used against you or even mentioned in court during your personal injury case. This will ensure that the jury does not undervalue or minimize your claim, and that you will be made whole by your recovery. For this reason, you should always use all benefits available to you when recovering from your personal injury accident – that’s what they’re there for!
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury as the result of someone else’s negligence, you need the help of a qualified personal injury attorney to fight for you and get you the compensation you deserve. At Murphy & Garner, LLC, our personal injury lawyers have years of experience representing the victims of car crashes and all other types of accidents, and are here to help you. We can investigate all causes of your accident and advise whether a personal injury lawsuit or negotiated settlement is in your best interests.
The attorneys at Murphy & Garner, LLC offer free consultations for injured people. To set up your appointment, call 678-563-1584 today or visit us online. If we can’t help, we will refer you to a competent professional who can!