There are many new terms and processes you may be introduced to as a victim involved in a personal injury case. One is a medical lien – a legal claim a health care provider could bring against your settlement for the amount it paid for your care. A medical lien may apply to your case if you cannot afford to pay your health care costs out of pocket. Learn how to deal with a medical lien during your personal injury case.
What Is a Medical Lien?
Immediately after an accident, someone has to pay for your medical care. This responsibility may go to your health insurance company or Medicaid/Medicare. If you do not have insurance or enough coverage, the initial cost may go to the hospital. If the party that pays for your emergency medical treatment is not the one that should be legally responsible for these costs, it can place a medical lien against your personal injury case settlement or judgment award for reimbursement.
An insurance company, government agency or health care center may place a medical lien against your award after an accident. A medical lien is a demand that gives the lienholder legal authority to take some of a patient’s personal injury award to reimburse that party for the medical care provided. If your personal injury lawsuit involves a medical or hospital lien, this could impact your financial recovery.
How Can a Medical Lien Affect Your Settlement?
Medical liens prevent an injured patient from getting paid twice for the same loss. Without a medical lien, an injured accident victim may have his or her medical bills covered by a third party as well as receive financial compensation for these bills. This would not be fair to the party that covered the costs of health care. The legal remedy to this situation is a medical lien.
If there is a medical lien against your personal injury settlement, expect a percentage of your final financial reward to go to the lienholder. This will clear the debt you owe the lienholder for paying for your medical costs. The amount deducted will depend on the terms of the lien. You will also have to pay for attorney’s fees before you can keep what remains for yourself. Luckily, you can negotiate the value of a medical lien down.
How to Negotiate a Medical Lien
You or your personal injury lawyer can negotiate with the lienholder to try to reduce your liability for medical costs. Your attorney may be able to convince the lienholder to accept less than the amount it paid for your medical care. If the value of the lien is more than the total amount you are likely to receive from a personal injury lawsuit, for example, the lienholder is more likely to negotiate your lien down.
Your lawyer can also look for issues that could render the medical or hospital lien invalid, such as a lien filed too late (later than 180 days from your release from the hospital) or with the incorrect name, address or other information. These issues could make a lien unenforceable, meaning you are not responsible for the bill and the hospital no longer has a lien against your settlement.
Discuss Your Medical Lien With an Attorney in Albuquerque
A medical lien can make a big difference to the final outcome of your personal injury case. How much you will have to pay a health insurance company or hospital, however, may depend on your ability to negotiate the medical lien down.
Discuss a medical lien in detail with an attorney in Albuquerque today. Working with an attorney from the beginning of your case can help you avoid mistakes that could hurt your recovery, such as paying the full price of a medical lien without attempting negotiations. A lawyer can help you with medical lien negotiations and your other legal options.