Liens and Subrogation Articles

Here, you’ll find access to the most detailed information pertaining to liens and subrogation in North Carolina personal injury claims.




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Physicians Liens under §44-49

As you know, there is nothing simple or convenient about being involved in a motor vehicle accident in North Carolina. From seeking treatment to dealing with lost wages, everything about being a victim of a car accident is complicated. Possibly the most thorny issue related to seeking compensation for your car accident is understanding and dealing with medical liens arising from your accident-related treatment.

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Medicare Liens

As a federally funded program, Medicare has a priority right of recovery. This means that Medicare will be reimbursed from recovery proceeds before any other party. Moreover, Medicare liens attach to the proceeds of a personal injury claim as soon as medical care is covered by the program. Medicare has a right to reimbursement as soon as you receive your settlement or award and does not need to give notice of their lien.

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Medicaid Liens

From beginning to end, the recovery process for accidents can be cumbersome and difficult. Having medical liens attached to your recovery only adds to the headache. If you are a recipient of Medicaid and are injured in an accident, it is highly likely that the program has an interest in any proceeds you receive from a settlement or judgment.

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ERISA Liens

The Employee Retirement Income and Security Act, known as ERISA, is a complex federal law that permits employers to establish special self-funded insurance policies. These ERISA-based policies are special in that they are not subject to North Carolina’s strict insurance laws.

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ERISA Plan Language and Reimbursement Issues

Before you settle any personal injury case, you should first determine who may have a potential lien or legal interest in your recovery. If your employer provides an ERISA insurance based plan, the provider will likely be entitled to reimbursement for medical expenses from any settlements or judgements related to those injuries.

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State Employee Health Plan (SEHP) Liens

If you are a North Carolina state employee and are injured in a car accident, the State Employee Health Plan (SEHP) will likely help pay for your medical care. All state employees and their dependents covered by the health insurance program are subject to potential SEHP liens on their personal injury recovery.

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Child Support Liens

Child support liens are just one of the many types of liens that can have an effect on your recovery. Generally, if you receive a recovery for a personal injury claim and are past due on child support, the Department of Health and Human Resources or the other parent of your child may seek a lien against your personal injury recovery.

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Ambulance Services – Liens and Garnishment of Wages

North Carolina law protects medical providers by providing them with the limited statutory right to secure an interest in the proceeds from an individual’s personal injury settlement or judgment, commonly known as or referred to as a “medical lien.”

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Case Summary: ERISA Reimbursement

In Sereboff v. Mid Atlantic Medical Services, the plaintiffs (the Sereboffs) were injured in an automobile accident. Associated medical expenses were paid for by their health insurance plan through Mid Atlantic, the defendant. The health insurance plan is covered by Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).

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Case Summary: Medical Provider Liens

This case arose out of an accident involving Mark and Tammi Baughn, who were treated by plaintiff, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority (hospital). The hospital brought this action against the Baughns; the insurance company of the other driver, First of Georgia Insurance Co. (First Georgia); and the insurance adjuster T. M. Mayfield & Company.

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Case Summary: Perfected Medical Liens

This case arose out of a personal injury claim by Mr. Henry Clark. Mr. Clark was treated at North Carolina Baptist Hospitals (hospital) following the accident, and accrued medical expenses in the amount of $2,579.69. Clark retained Mrs. Beverly Mitchell, the defendant, as his attorney in his personal injury case. The dispute centered on the lien that the hospital held for unpaid medical bills and how Mrs. Williams disbursed the settlement for her client.

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Case Summary: Distribution of Settlement to Lien Holders

This case arose out of the settlement of a personal injury action. The defendant is the attorney of the patient, who did not disburse funds from the settlement to the plaintiff (hospital) and instead made payments to two other medical service providers.

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Case Summary: Distribution to ERISA Lien Holders

This case arose out of severe injuries sustained by Deborah Shank (Shank) as the result of an automobile accident. The accident was caused by a third party, and eventually resulted in the adjudication of Shank to be incompetent.

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Case Summary: Effect of ERISA Liens on Disbursement

This case arose out of an automobile accident that injured plaintiff Zachery Brown. Mr. Brown’s health insurance was provided by his mother’s Associates Health and Welfare Plan (Associates), a benefit incurred by her employment with Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. at the time of her son’s accident.

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Case Summary: Limitations of ERISA Liens

This case arose out of an automobile accident in which the respondent, McCutchen, a US Airways employee, was injured by a third party. The third party was underinsured, and the accident severely injured and/or killed 3 other people.

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Case Summary: ERISA Liens and General Assets

This case arose out of an automobile accident in which petitioner Robert Montanile (Montanile) was injured. His health benefits plan was provided by his employer, Board of Trustees (the Board), and administered under ERISA. The case focused on the ability of the ERISA plan to recover from a participating individual who gets a settlement, judgment, or otherwise collects from a third party.

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Case Summary: Child Support Liens and Worker’s Compensation

This case arose out of the unpaid child support debts of Mr. Charles Allen Byrd. Mr. Byrd had two minor children from two different women, and had also entered into two separate voluntary support agreements with each mother. An at-work accident placed Mr. Byrd on workers’ compensation benefits, and he received temporary total disability benefits for two separate periods of time.

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Case Summary: NC Medicaid Estate Recovery

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Medical Assistance(DHHS) filed a complaint against defendant, Anna Marie Thompkins (Thompkins), in her capacity as Executrix of the estate of Sallie Dye Anthony (Anthony). DHHS sought recovery of the $52,575.14 in nursing home and hospital services that DHHS furnished to Ms. Anthony.

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Case Summary: The Collateral Source Rule in North Carolina

Cates v. Wilson arose out of the circumstances surrounding the birth of Morgan Reed Cates, daughter of Joyce Cates. Morgan was born with cerebral palsy and mental retardation. The mother and child, as plaintiffs, brought a medical malpractice action against Doctor Stanley Wilson (defendant).

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Case Summary: Medicaid Conflict in NC

This case focuses on a fundamental component of our system of federalism: preemption of state law by federal law. The doctrine of preemption determines which law the court will apply when there are conflicts between applicable state and federal laws. Federal laws trump state laws, but there are also ways in which both laws may coexist and simultaneously govern.

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The Case That Affects ERISA-Based Subrogation Rights (Liens)

Throughout the past couple of months, the Supreme Court of the United States heard and decided a case dealing with an ERISA-based subrogation rights or ERISA-based health plan’s ability to receive reimbursement rights from third-party settlements.

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