If you’ve been hurt and injured in an accident and filed a personal injury claim to recover compensation for your losses, you’ve no doubt had to wait as the legal process unfolds. The timeline for a personal injury lawsuit can be several months and even several years. So once the lawsuit or settlement is resolved, injured victims are anxious to receive their settlement funds and move on with their lives. In some cases, plaintiffs may have had a lien placed against them and have questions about how personal injury liens work.
Types of Liens in a Personal Injury Case
One of the most common types of liens in a personal injury case is a medical lien or a hospital lien. Liens can also be asserted by federal or state government agencies like the VA, Medicare and Medicaid. In a typical example of a healthcare lien, your health insurance provider may place a lien on your settlement so that it is reimbursed for what it paid out in the course of your treatment.
If you are injured in a car accident and cannot afford to pay your medical bills, a lien agreement may allow you to receive treatment and not have to pay until your personal injury case is resolved. Once the case is settled, the hospital or healthcare provider receives their payment from the proceeds of the settlement.
While not a lien per se, if you owe back child support payments, the amount of money owed may be taken out of your settlement before it reaches you.
Negotiating a Lien
It’s possible that you can negotiate the lien amount with a healthcare provider. If you are facing large medical bills that you cannot pay, you should contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your case. An attorney has experience and skill to negotiate with healthcare providers. And, an experienced personal injury lawyer will also know healthcare providers who will work on a lien basis.
When negotiating a lien it's also important to consider the terms of the lien, in the event you lose your claim or the settlement amount does not cover all of the lien amount.
How a Lien Works Once Your Case is Resolved
Once a settlement is reached or a personal injury case has gone to trial, the lien will be exercised. If you received a financial award, the settlement check will be sent to your personal injury attorney who will pay the lien and other fees and expenses from those funds. The remainder will then be sent to you.
If your settlement amount does not cover the lien or if you lose your case, the lien may still stand depending upon the terms. In other words, you will personally owe the amount of the lien. Some liens may be contingent on you winning an award. And, an experienced personal injury lawyer may be able to negotiate with the lien holder for a payment plan or reduction in amount owed.
Medicaid and Medicare Considerations
Federal law dictates that the government has a right to repayment and are legally entitled to liens over personal injury settlements for those who receive are on Medicare insurance plan. In many states like New York, state law further dictates the right of the state to claim a lien against a personal injury settlement for Medicaid beneficiaries.
Get Help with Your Personal Injury Claim
Before you start the negotiation process with an insurance company, consider your situation. If you’ve incurred medical bills, missed work and especially if you anticipate needing further medical treatment, an experienced personal injury attorney’s expertise would benefit your case.
Working with experienced personal injury attorneys can make all the difference in the outcome of your case. Why risk being unfairly compensated and not having recourse to fix it? When you hire a personal injury lawyer from our team, you pay nothing upfront. We work on contingent fees that are only collected if we win your case. If we don’t win, you don’t pay.
Contact Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law, for a free consultation. With our proven track record of success with personal injury settlements and our commitment to client care, we can turn your setback into a comeback.