Five Frequently Asked Asbestos Questions
DOES MEDICARE HAVE A RIGHT TO BE REIMBURSED FROM ASBESTOS SETTLEMENTS?
Medicare has a very limited right to be reimbursed for conditional payments made to asbestos plaintiffs. The basic rule is that Medicare only has a right to be reimbursed for funds that are received because of a person’s exposure to asbestos after December 5, 1980. For instance, if a person’s exposure to asbestos occurred entirely before December 5, 1980, as it is with most victims, Medicare is not entitled to reimbursement. If a person was exposed to asbestos after December 5, 1980, but doesn’t know who made that asbestos and thus no company paid based on that exposure, Medicare is not entitled to reimbursement. This is also true if that same person collected from companies based on exposure prior to December 5, 1980. If a person collected for exposures after December 5, 1980, then subject to certain limitations, Medicare may have a lien. Please note, Medicare liens are based on the actual Conditional Payment amount paid by Medicare for medical services related to the asbestos disease. It is important that the client review the Payment Summary Form provided with the Conditional Payment Letter, because often the summary has listed items having nothing to do with asbestos. Finally, Medicare will reduce the Conditional Payment amount by the percentage of the attorney fee and a portion of the costs.
MY LAWYER HAS HAD A DIFFICULT TIME GETTING AN ANSWER FROM MEDICARE. IS THERE A WAY TO SPEED THE PROCESS?
We are recommending that our clients call there Congressman to help speed the process. There is an office at MSPRC (Medicare’s Recovery Contractor) that deals with Congressional Inquiries. The office is called: MSPRC Congressional Inquiry P.O. Box 138832 Oklahoma City, OK 73113. Amazingly, members of Congress, through their staffs can get their inquiries responded to in about two to three weeks. Our clients have reported to us that their Congressional Members have been very helpful and glad to be of service.
YEARS AGO I HAD AN ASBESTOS CASE BECAUSE I HAD X-RAY FINDINGS OF ASBESTOS SCARRING. I NOW HAVE AN ASBESTOS RELATED CANCER. CAN I FILE A NEW CLAIM? The answer in most states is yes. In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, where our offices are located, we are known as two disease states. A person can have a claim for a non-malignant disease and also a malignancy, such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, larynx cancer, esophageal cancer and colon cancer. The claim must be brought within two years of the date the person is diagnosed with the cancer. Please also note, that most of the Bankruptcy Trusts also allow second disease claims, even if you signed a release in the non-malignancy case giving up your rights to a future claim. Additionally, Ed Nass of our office recently successfully argued and convinced our Supreme Court to permit a person who had an asbestos cancer suit to file another claim if they are diagnosed with another type of asbestos cancer.
MY FAMILY MEMBER HAS JUST BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH MESOTHELIOMA OR ANOTHER ASBESTOS CAUSED CANCER. SHOULD WE HIRE A LOCAL LAW FIRM SPECIALIZING IN ASBESTOS CASES OR A NATIONAL FIRM?
We strongly recommend a local firm that specializes in asbestos disease cases. Consider a number of things: 1. Lawyers from the jurisdiction where I live and was exposed, are more likely to be familiar with my worksite and have most likely have represented co-workers who can help identify asbestos products to which I was exposed, as compared to a national law firm that has never even heard of the place where I worked until I walked through their door. 2. A local law firm is familiar with the Court system, its rules and procedures, both written and unwritten. Having a lawyer who knows his or her way around the Courthouse is invaluable. 3. Be careful of your client costs. Are you paying for your lawyer to stay at Philadelphia area hotels and fly around the country? Are these costs being deducted from your share of the recovery? The net recovery after costs, what you will actually receive, is the most important number in any settlement. 4. Finally, be careful of the television advertising you see. Are these real lawyers who will actually handle your case or will they refer you elsewhere to another attorney? Check out the fine print.
CAN I BRING A CLAIM FOR AN ASBESTOS-RELATED DISEASE WHEN MY ONLY EXPOSURE TO ASBESTOS WAS FROM LAUNDERING MY FAMILY MEMBERS CLOTHES?
Unfortunately, we are seeing an increased number of family members diagnosed with asbestos diseases. Currently, both Pennsylvania and New Jersey permit actions by family members if they develop an asbestos disease.