A Modesto man was walking on Santa Cruz Boulevard in the early morning when he was struck by a careless driver. The driver had just finished a long shift at the Del Monte Foods plant and would later tell people at the scene that she "was not thinking about anything other than getting home and heading to bed." She didn’t realize anyone was in the street ahead of her until she struck the victim at full speed. The victim died hours later in the Doctors Medical Center emergency room.
It didn’t take long for the attorneys representing the family of the decedent to obtain the maximum recoverable amount and reach a confidential settlement.
The family of the decedent then faced a second challenge. Often when a Medicare recipient (or his family) receives compensation for the injuries caused by another, Medicare seeks to be repaid the amount it spent on the victim’s medical care. The victim was a Medicare recipient, and Doctors Medical Center claimed to have spent over $600,000 in attempting to save the his life. Medicare sought repayment of the amount it contributed to this treatment.
Fortunately, The Dunnion Law Firm had successfully fought this issue countless times with Medicare. In a separate case just months before, attorney Connell Dunnion had petitioned the Department of Health and Human Services to overturn a Medicare decision to take a portion of a client’s settlement. Appearing before a judge in Miami, Florida, Dunnion argued that California’s wrongful death statute does not permit the recovery of medical damages (California Code Civ. Pro. §§ 377.61, 377.34), and that where state law prevents recovery of medical damages, Medicare has no claim to wrongful death payments (MSP Manual, Ch. 7, §188.8.131.52). The judge agreed, ruling that Medicare must withdraw its claim on the family’s settlement.
In fighting to prevent Medicare from obtaining the funds in the present case, attorneys attached the recent ruling obtained by Dunnion to its demand that Medicare withdraw its claim. Medicare quickly did, and the victim’s family was able to receive the entire proceeds of the case.