Settlements and Medical Bills
This is a frequent issue that confronts many families who have lost a loved one to a North Carolina wrongful death. There are several important things to consider.
A good place to start is North Carolina General Statute 28A-18-2 which covers wrongful death claims in North Carolina. As stated in the North Carolina wrongful death statute, any proceeds of a wrongful death are not considered assets of the estate. What does this mean?
Most importantly, this means that if the decedent owed money to people, also called creditors, these people do not have a claim to the wrongful death proceeds. Included in this group of potential creditors are credit card companies, lenders and medical care providers. However, if a medical care provider provided medical care that related to the injury that resulted in death, then the medical care provider is entitled to up to $4,500 of the wrongful death proceeds. In most cases that we have worked on where there was a North Carolina wrongful death, the medical bills associated with the care that was related to the death far exceed $4,500. Under these circumstances, we pro-rate the $4,500 among the qualified medical care providers.Is This the End of the Story? No.
If the medical bills were paid partly or entirely by Medicaid, Medicare or some other state supported health insurance, it is likely that these bills will need to be paid back regardless of the $4,500 cap.
If you have a question about your family’s rights following a North Carolina wrongful death, contact the lawyers at Hendren, Redwine & Malone for a free consultation.