My good buddy, Chris Nichols from Raleigh (who is sort of the "Guru" of disbursements in North Carolina) was a behind-the-scenes strategist for the Plaintiffs in this appeal.
Congrats to Chris, and more especially to the thousands of injured parties in North Carolina who will receive fairer and more logical treatment from the Medicaid system, as they try to recover from devastating injuries.
WHO GETS THE MONEY? The Challenge of Disbursements:
This whole area of settlement disbursements is a growing challenge in civil litigation. In the old days (Lord, I'm sounding more like a geezer each day, it seemed like my biggest task was holding the negligent parties accountable for all the harms and losses they had caused my clients. But more and more it seems, even after all the effort that goes into obtaining a good verdict or settlement, there is an enormous amount of work left to be done with the determination of how those funds are distributed.
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NC's arcane law of
A recent settlement serves as a good example. The defendant company that created the unsafe condition resulting in my client's significant leg injuries claimed that it had done nothing wrong. The injury was my client's fault, they said, and they owed her nothing.
Because of North Carolina's antiquated "Contributory Negligence" defense, there was a chance the client might end up with nothing after a trial. A compromise was reached at mediation, but the settlement amount barely covered the costs of her medical treatment, with almost nothing left to cover future disabilities.
Thus, even after the settlement funds had been received and closing documents filed with the Court, a considerable amount of time was spent working with the medical providers to satisfy medical liens so that everyone was at least partially paid and no bills went into collections. Fortunately, Medicaid was not involved in her particular case, but if it had been, it would have complicated the final settlement process even more.
If you ever have questions on how to distribute settlement proceeds, or any other matters involving North Carolina litigation practices, I hope you won't hesitate to come by for a cup of coffee to discuss it with me. Even if I can't help, I'm always happy to listen and point you to someone who can.
All the best,