As if being in an accident is not bad enough, reality will hit very quickly when those medical bills start to pile in. Because you were injured in a car accident, the hospital must provide care, even if your insurance will not cover the bill. It gets even more complicated when another party is brought into the equation. One way or another, however, the hospital is going to get its money, so it may resort to placing a medical lien to recover costs not paid by the insurance company.
What Is a Lien?
In its most basic definition, a lien is a legal option to place against a business, group, or person to ensure payment is received for good or services that have been provided. In the case of a medical lien, this would be placed to ensure the medical providers all receive payment for treatment that was provided. Because many accidents involve a lawsuit, the providers may file a lien against the auto accident injury case to recover payment. When this happens, all funds due will be deducted from the settlement prior to any payments being made.
Common Types of Liens
While laws vary from state to state, in most states, a hospital can file a lien to recover payment for treatment rendered. However, there are usually rules associated with the lien. For instance, a lien may have to be filed within a specific period from the time you were released from the hospital. The lien must also include:
- Your proper name
- Your current address
- Name and address of hospital
- Dates of service provided
If the hospital fails to meet the guidelines as the local laws are laid out, the lien against the settlement is void. However, we should note, this does not mean the hospital will not get reimbursed. You are still responsible for the bills; the only difference is that the lien will not be enforceable against the suit.
Workers’ Compensation Lien
If the accident happened while you were at work, even if the injury resulted in a lawsuit, workers’ compensation can place a lien to recover any costs that were paid for through the insurance. Again, the requirements and laws will change depending upon which state you live.
If you were on any type of government paid medical plan that paid for the care, the government can also file a lien against the settlement. This could include Medicaid and Medicare, as well as the Veteran’s Administration.
How Does the Lien Work?
As we briefly touched on above, when a lien is legally placed, it would require that any proceeds from the settlement go toward the lien before any funds are dispersed to anyone else. If, by chance, the lien is for more than the legal settlement, things can get complicated. However, if you have a skilled and experienced auto accident attorney, he or she will more than likely negotiate a lower payment so you are not faced with a financial hardship after the settlement.
Most medical care providers would prefer to recover their costs immediately rather than wait for the years it can sometimes take for these cases to settle. If that is the case, your attorney can negotiate with the hospital, and possibly even your own insurance company, to pay a reduced fee in exchange for immediate payment or some type of payment plan.
Can a Lien Be Negotiated?
In short, yes it can. Most experienced auto accident attorneys will have existing relationships with both the insurance company and medical care providers. That being the case, the attorney will have a much better idea if these providers are willing to negotiate down their payment for more favorable terms for you. This entire process can get a bit tricky and messy, which is why it is important to find an experienced attorney with a record of success in auto accident lawsuits, specifically when dealing with substantial medical bills.
Do You Need an Auto Accident Attorney?
If you were recently injured in an auto accident and are now facing significant medical bills, we would highly recommend you, at the very least, discuss the case with an attorney. Your initial consultation is free of charge and you are under no obligation to use our legal services just for speaking with an attorney. To discuss your case, please give us a call at 855-633-0888. Or, if you would prefer to learn more about our legal services before contacting us, click here.
Taryn J. White is a legal research specialist and Injury law news reporter. Her current accomplishments include helping those facing any injuries from vehicle accidents, workplace accidents, and medical malpractice.