Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Paybacks are a Pain: Health Insurance, Workers' Compensation, Medicaid, Medicare

   The most important priority for accident victims is necessary medical treatment.   Whether  paid by Health Insurance, Workers' Compensation, Medicaid, Medicare, each payor is protected by "subrogation" or "lien" rights.    This can best be explained as all medical expenses must be repaid out of any recovery.  This is rationalized under the principles of "one cannot recover the same damages twice" and "this is how these programs minimize their costs."  Every dollar paid back is one less dollar for the client.

   Depending on the specific facts of each case, a lawyer may be able to negotiate reductions in these paybacks, sometimes entirely.  You have to play your hand smartly.  See www.junelawyer.com

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Summer Aviation Accidents in Alaska

  In Alaska, summer brings airplane accidents.  Part of this can be explained by the fact that there is more flying in the summer than in the winter.  Part of this can be explained by pilot errors in judgment because they want to go on their fishing or hunting trip.
  Yesterday was no exception.  See Homer Plane Accident Fatality.  A Cessna 206 on floats flown by an experienced pilot flipped in Beluga Lake in Homer.  The pilot and passengers were senior management employees from MEA, the electrical cooperative serving the Mat-Su Valley, on their way to a fishing trip.   Sadly, one of the passengers died with  the other passengers suffering injury.  
   Following aviation accidents, I often receive calls from surviving family or injured passengers.  My advice is consistent:
    1.  Focus on obtaining the right medical care for any injuries or grieving for the loss of a loved one.  For the most part, the circumstances surrounding the crash will be investigated by the NTSB and possibly the FAA.  On a personal level, in the greater scheme of life, the need for medical treatment or simply grieving trumps any other action. 
    2.   Alaska has a 2 year statute of limitations, one of the purposes of which is to allow medical treatment or grieving to occur.
    3.  There is no reason to talk to the air carrier's insurer until you have allowed time for medical treatment or grieving.  I have had several occasions where these conversations are used against the accident victim. 
    You have to play your hand smartly.  See www.junelawyer.com

Friday, July 6, 2012

Motor Vehicle Accident Recovery: A Short Primer

With the holiday week, I have had a number of calls regarding motor vehicle accidents and what can be recovered.  Here is a shorthand list of the basic items of recovery:

Property Damage to your vehicle measured by the cost of repair or the Actual Cash Value of the vehicle (Note that this is not the replacement cost)

Medical bills, including future medical bills (But if these were paid by your health insurer, your own vehicle insurance, or Medicare/Medicaid, you have to repay back)

Loss of income, including future loss of earnings if your injuries prevent you from returning to work.

Non-economic loss (pain, suffering, emotional distress, forced changes in your life because of injuries, the inconvenience related to the accident)

No matter how severe the accident, I do not suggest that clients hope for recovery in the form of punitive damages.  By law, 50% of these damages awarded at trial are paid to the State of Alaska with the client, not the State of Alaska assuming the risks of litigation.  At the same time, these are the verdicts most often appealed.

You have to play your hand smartly.  See www.junelawyer.com

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Port of Anchorage Accident

    An accident occurred at the Port of Anchorage in which a security vehicle went off the dock causing a man's death.  The cause of the accident remains under investigation.
     The accident raises a basic safety question:  Someone must have had the responsibility for conducting a safety analysis of the port and addressing how one should address the hazard of vehicle traffic near water and how to prevent this consistent with other port operations.