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How are medical liens used in personal injury cases?

February 13, 2020 in

Many victims seeking compensation in a New York personal injury case are surprised to discover that a doctor’s office, hospital, insurance company, or another party can seek a medical “lien” against their settlement. Meaning, the amount of money they’ll receive will be lower than expected. Since a lien can have a drastic impact on your financial future, it’s important to understand what they are and how they are used.

What a Medical Lien Is and How it is Used

Insurance companies, hospitals and government agencies sometimes have the right to impose a medical lien against a victim’s personal award or settlement if they have paid for the individual’s medical treatment. A medical lien is commonly used in the following four situations:

  • A hospital “donated” care. This typically occurs when a victim is not insured, but the hospital provided treatment anyway. The healthcare provider may then pursue a lien to be compensated for its services.
  • A victim used their own insurance coverage to pay for their necessary healthcare following the accident. The insurance company may then file a medical lien against the proceeds of the settlement.
  • A government agency, such as Medicaid or Medicare, paid for the victim’s medical care. The agency may attempt to recoup their costs when the injuries are associated with an accident.
  • Worker’s compensation paid for treatment. The worker’s compensation insurance provider may pursue a lien against any proceeds if a victim received benefits and subsequently filed a personal injury lawsuit.

Most doctors and hospitals do not want to file a lien and would prefer immediate payment. Personal injury cases can take years, which means payment will as well. Additionally, there is the risk that the patient will not receive any damages at all. Because of this, it’s often possible for victims to negotiate a payment arrangement, rather than having the compensation taken out of their settlement.

How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help

There are methods that may enable a personal injury lawyer to negotiate the terms of a medical lien in the victim’s favor by either negotiating the amount of the lien that has to be paid back or disputing the basis of the claimed lien. An attorney will have the resources and ability to assess the validity of the lien or negotiate a reduction of the lien.

In addition, a personal injury lawyer will ensure that the costs of the medical lien will factor into the potential recovery, or be presented as evidence of damages at trial. Every effort will be made to reduce a victim’s financial burden, as often times the lawyer will work on a contingency fee basis. This means they only get paid if they are able to obtain compensation on behalf of the injured individual.

We Will Get You the Best Result

Our qualified New York City personal injury attorneys can help you address any medical lien issues that might come up in your case. We will determine whether the lien is valid, and can offer negotiation strategies to lower the amount taken from your recovery. Contact Sullivan Papain Block McGrath Coffinas & Cannavo P.C. online or by calling (212) 732-9000.