Top 10 Biggest Medicaid & Personal Injury Settlements

It’s no secret that personal injuries are incredibly common in the United States. The most common types of personal injuries lawyers see are automobile accident personal injury claims. Since Medicare and Medicaid are popular federal health insurance programs, it’s not unusual for these programs to pay medical bills associated with an accident. A Medicare set or Medicaid lien may be attached to a settlement when this happens. This prioritizes the government’s reimbursement for the medical bills they pay. Liens are attached to the settlement if it includes reimbursement for medical bills. 

We’re going to explain Medicare, Medicaid, and the lawyer’s obligation when it comes to these “super liens” since they are taken directly out of the plaintiff’s settlement. As a personal injury lawyer, it’s important to know the type of health insurance your client has, in addition to their automobile insurance. Not all your clients know the requirements for paying medical debts from their settlement. Many may just assume that the bills are covered since they had health insurance. We’ll cover some of the top 10 Medicaid and personal injury settlements. These medicaid and personal injury settlements far exceed the average personal injury settlement of $52,900, according to Martindale-Nolo Research. Although these settlements are high, the clients incurred significant medical bills, which may have resulted in medicaid liens and personal injury settlements.

Personal injury settlement and Medicaid eligibility

Medicare and Medicaid are two different types of state-run federal health insurance.  Medicare is common amongst elderly and disabled adults, but Medicaid coverage is usually exclusively available to adults and children who meet certain maximum income requirements. Medicaid eligibilty is governed by the state, and each state has its own Medicaid insurance program. 

Can Medicaid take my car accident settlement?

If someone is involved in a car accident and has Medicare or Medicaid, their insurance may pay some medical costs. The hospital and doctors will usually ask for the auto insurance policy information to bill the auto insurance carrier first, but if the insurance reaches the coverage limits, the victim’s health insurance may be billed. 

Medicaid liens and personal injury settlements

In personal injury cases that do not involve an automobile, federal or state insurance (whichever the victim has) may be the primary insurance billed. Anytime Medicare or Medicaid has paid medical benefits, the client and the attorney are obligated to repay the lien if money is recovered from a negligent third party. On average, Medicaid liens recover less than Medicare liens.

If a lawyer fails to repay a Medicare lien from a settlement, the federal government can sue the lawyer for double damages plus interest for intentionally disregarding a Medicare lien. State Medicaid lien laws vary from state to state, but the state can sue the client and the lawyer if it isn’t paid.  

Typically, Medicare receives 50% of the victim’s settlement after attorney’s fees and litigation costs. 

Here are some of the top 10 Medicaid and lawsuit settlements:

1. Big Tobacco Master Settlement

 $206 Billion

Today we know that tobacco kills. However, for 25 years, little was known about the impact tobacco had on health – or at least big tobacco companies hid these effects. In 1998, 46 states united against America’s four largest tobacco companies. In their case, they are able to recover the costs of caring for lifelong smokers and punitive damages for Big Tobacco’s intentionally misleading advertising. The jury felt Big Tobacco did use deceptive marketing and engaged in unethical business practices. The final judgment was over $206 billion paid over 25 years to help cover the costs of hospital care and the development of anti-smoking organizations and their campaigns.

2. The Family of Robert Middleton

 $150 Billion

Back in 1998, an 8-year-old child named Robert Middleton was sexually assaulted, covered in gasoline, and lit on fire by a 13-year-old boy named Don Collins. Burns covered over 99 percent of Robert’s body. Twelve years later, Robert died of skin cancer. Robert’s family claimed the burns caused cancer. Collins was found guilty and sentenced as an adult for the death of Robert Middleton. A Texas jury awarded Robert’s family $150 billion in punitive damages. The punitive damages award was symbolic, and no one expected it to actually be paid since it was a civil suit. However, it was still a record settlement award.

3. Anderson Family vs. General Motors

$4.9 Billion 

In 1993, the Anderson family was driving in their Chevy Malibu and was hit by a drunk driver. The impact of the crash resulted in an explosion in the fuel tank. All six family members were severely burnt. The family filed a suit seeking compensatory damages from General Motors. The case went to trial, and the family was awarded $4.9 billion in personal injury settlement and Medicaid. The breakdown was $107.6 million for compensatory damages and $4.8 billion for punitive damages.

General Motors appealed the settlement, and a Superior Court Judge reduced the settlement to $1.2 billion.

4. Derailed Train Leads to Traumatic Brain Injury in Gas Station Manager

$60 Million

A train derailed and crashed into a trackside gas station in 1997.  At the time, the gas station manager was in his office. The manager, named Donald French, suffered a traumatic brain injury along with multiple broken bones. He retained two lawyers – one for brain injuries and one specializing in railroad accidents. He was awarded $46 million in damages and $14 million in interest. 

5. Ford and Mazda Malfunctioning Seat Belt 

$32.5 Million

In 1996, Mark Force was struck head-on by another vehicle. Mark had his seatbelt on correctly, but instead of locking to keep him secure – it completely malfunctioned. Mark was ejected from the vehicle and thrown through the windshield upon impact. As a result of the collision and the seat belt malfunction, he suffered a traumatic brain injury. He sued the negligent driver and the car manufacturers, Ford Motor Co. and Mazda Motor Corp., for damages that resulted from the seat belt malfunction. The case went to a jury trial where Mark was awarded $32.5 million in damages.

6. Gloria Aguilar vs. Metropolitan Transportation Authority

$27.5 Million

In 2005, Gloria Aguilar was only two blocks away from her NYC apartment when a transit bus turned the corner and ran her over. Her leg was amputated as a result of the accident. She had to wear a prosthetic leg. After a seven-week trial in Manhattan Supreme Court, the jury awarded her $27.5 million in compensatory damages four years after the accident. 

7. Medical Malpractice in London

 $25.5 Million

At just 10 years old, Maisha Najeeb underwent a procedure at Great Ormond Street Hospital. Doctors were supposed to inject a dye into her brain for testing but instead injected glue into her brain. Maisha went blind in one eye and experienced many other medical complications. The jury awarded Maisha a lump sum of $2.8 million plus $383,000 annually until the age of 19. Once she turns 19, she receives $423,000 every year for her entire life. 

8. Shirly Miller vs. New York Pharmacy

$22 Million

In 2008, 37-year-old Shirley Miller was crossing the street when a pharmacy truck struck her, causing massive brain injuries, blindness, and other injuries. Her lawyer asked for $100 million due to the severity of her injuries. The pharmacy agreed to pay Miller $22 million in damages.

9. Carol Adkins and LA Delivery Truck Accident 

$19 million 

In 1998, 44-year-old Carol Adkins was hit by a Los Angeles city maintenance truck that crashed into several vehicles. Carol’s injuries were so extensive that she could only communicate by blinking. In 2000, she was being fed through a feeding tube and required constant medical care tallying about $30,000 a month

The claim involved a city government agency. The Los Angeles City Council approved the largest personal injury settlement it had ever paid–$19 million to the family paid over 2 years. 

10. Betty Bullock vs. Philip Morris

$28 Billion 

A jury in Los Angeles awarded $28 billion in damages to Betty Bullock. After being diagnosed with lung cancer, the lifelong smoker filed a lawsuit against Philip Morris. A judge deemed the damages excessive and reduced it from $28 billion to $28 million. 


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