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RESOLVING MENTAL HEALTH LIENS, TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY FUND LIENS, CATASTROPHIC ILLNESS IN CHILDREN RELIEF FUND LIENS IN PERSONAL INJURY CASES

by Thomas D. Begley, Jr., CELA

 

Mental Health Liens

In New Jersey, a person with a mental illness who is over age 18 and is being treated in a state psychiatric hospital shall be liable for the full cost of his treatment, maintenance, and all necessary related expenses.[1] Although this statute does include a repayment obligation, it does not appear to impose a lien, particularly with respect to personal injury claims.

Traumatic Brain Injury Fund

The New Jersey Traumatic Brain Injury Fund is the payer of last resort for costs of post-acute care, services, and financial assistance provided to survivors of traumatic brain injury, particularly with respect to rehabilitative and long-term care needs not covered by private insurance or public benefits programs.[2] The fund provides up to $15,000 a year in benefits, not to exceed a total expenditure of $100,000 per eligible person. The fund has a first-priority claim to any monies received by the person with traumatic brain injury as the result of a settlement or other payment made in connection with the traumatic brain injury.[3]

Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund

As its name suggests, the Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund is a New Jersey program that provides assistance to children and their families whose medical expenses extend beyond the families’ available resources.[4] In the case of an illness or condition for which the family, after receiving fund assistance, recovers damages for the child’s medical expenses pursuant to a settlement or judgment in a legal action, the family is required to reimburse the fund for the amount of assistance received, or for the portion of assistance covered by the amount of the damages, subject to a credit for the expenses of obtaining the recovery.[5] The Fund administrators have the authority to negotiate settlement of its reimbursement claims.[6]

 

[1] N.J.S.A. 30:4-60(c)(1).

[2] N.J.S.A. 30:6F-1 et seq.

[3] N.J.S.A. 30:6F-6(b).

[4] N.J.S.A. 26:2-148 et seq.

[5] N.J.S.A. 26:2-154(b).

[6] N.J.S.A. 26:2-154.1.

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