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The Law Offices of Mark C. Blane, APC

Q
CALIFORNIA "COMMON FUND" DOCTRINE: What in the world is the "Common Fund Doctrine" and how is it relevant to my California personal injury settlement? For example, all of my medical care for my car accident was covered under my private Kaiser Permanente Health Plan - anything I should know???

A

 

Yes, this is an important concept to understand, and a good California injury attorney will know how to use it on your California injury case.

First, what is the "common fund doctrine?"  It first started with the

 United States Supreme Court when it created the common fund doctrine, as a source of attor­ney’s fees. If attorneys’ efforts create a 

fund or benefit for others (their own client), the court is empowered to award fees from that fund to the attorney.  This means if an attorney works to get you an injury settlement, then the private health insurance that covered the medical bills, who did not join in the efforts to obtain the settlement, must offset their reimbursement interests by the attorney contingency % the attorney charged on the injury case.  Thus lowering what the injured client has to pay back to the private health plan.  Make sense?  So a good lawyer can help their client save money by being able to not pay back dollar for dollar on  an health insurance lien. This is particularly true for Kaiser health plans.  A California injury lawyer can argue the common fund defense to lower what is paid back to Kaiser at time of settlement (Speial rules apply if Kaiser plan protected by ERISA).

 


Here is the California law on it relation to any Kaiser Permanente Health Insurance lien interests:

Samura v. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., 17 Cal.App.4th 1284, 1287 (1993) The court held that the common fund doctrine applied to the lien of Kaiser to effectuate a pro rata reduction for the claimant's attorney's fees and costs. The “make- whole” doctrine can be waived by contract. The doctrine of unconscionability applies to reimbursement provisions.

Mark C. Blane is a San Diego Auto Accident Attorney, and the managing lawyer of the Law Offices of Mark C. Blane, a San Diego, California Personal Injury Law Firm devoted to representing families of injured persons of automobile accidents. If you or someone you love, has been injured or killed in San Diego County, or Southern California, due to the negligence of another, please order your FREE copy of Mr. Blane's book, The 10 Secrets You Need To Know About Your Injury Case, BEFORE You Call A Lawyer. It is full of helpful information, insights, and secrets that will help you protect your legal rights.  It normally sells for $16.95; however, it is free to all California residents, or those injured in a California accident.

 

 

 

 

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