In the attached disciplinary decision, a public reprimand was issued against an attorney practicing law in the state of Massachusetts. (READ THE SUMMARY) The attorney, William R. Dimento, had no prior experience handling personal injury matters, and he was therefore completely unaware of the Medicare Secondary Payer issues in the case.
State Disciplines Attorney for Inexperience in Dealing with the Medicare Secondary Payer Act
October 8, 2013
The injured plaintiff retained Mr. Dimento after she was involved in a motor vehicle accident sustaining a fractured pelvis. Mr. Dimento had previously handled a land-use matter for the plaintiff and agreed to represent her in the personal injury claim. Plaintiff had spent over a month convalescing after the accident. The amount Medicare paid related to the loss, however, was not timely explored until plaintiff passed away. Years after plaintiff deceased, Mr. Dimento involved someone with knowledge of the Medicare process and the Medicare amount was obtained and Medicare was reimbursed.
The Board presiding over the discipline proceeding was asked to determine whether Mr. Dimento’s failure to properly address the Medicare component of the matter, for over 4 years, was in violation of Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.2(a), 1.3, and 8.4. The Board of Bar Overseers entered a joint recommendation for discipline by a public reprimand.
Franco Signor Commentary: Recent cases involving the Medicare Secondary Payer Act underscore the need to have a settlement strategy in place that is sophisticated in approach. Attorneys, including personal injury attorneys who resolve general liability claims, need to understand the nuances involved that may jeopardize their clients future medical benefits. In this particular case, the administratrix was smart to ultimately hire a skilled professional to resolve the issue. The process can take as little as four months and most in the plaintiff bar who specialize in personal injury lawsuits use lien settlement organizations to accomplish this in a timely manner. Do not be the practitioner muddling through the Medicare process. Call us for help!