Car Accident Attorney
In many car accident cases, the settlement or trial will occur long after treatment has been administered. When this scenario holds true a medical doctor, including your insurance company, a hospital, doctor, chiropractor, therapist, or other medical professional, has the right to a lien on any unpaid medical bills. This lien can be placed on your settlement or damage award.
A lien is a legal interest; therefore, the medical lien will need to be addressed before any settlement proceeds can be distributed. The legislation pertaining to liens can vary depending on where the claim has been filed. If a lien has been put on your case, it is important you discuss the matter with a car accident lawyer.
Medical Provider Liens
Medical liens are considered to be legally binding and a secured interest. If you ignore the lien, you will almost certainly face future legal problems. In short if you have received medical treatment, or your insurance company has covered your treatment, while you wait for a settlement, you will need to repay these expenses.
Depending on the state you are in, some providers will ask you to sign a lien letter. This will state that you submit to a lien against your legal claim and settlement. In order for the medical lien to be valid, the provider must follow Hospital Lien Statutes according to the state or federal government. Some of these requirements include:
- The lien must be filed within 180 days of your hospital release
- The lien must include your full name, address, the hospital address, and the dates of treatment
If your medical lien does not have these things, or other elements required by the statute, it may not be enforced. This doesn’t mean you won’t have to pay the bill, but rather there won’t be a valid lien on your settlement.
Workers Compensation Liens
If you were injured while working, it may be possible for a workers compensation lien to be issued if any of your bills or wages have been covered by the state’s workers compensation fund. These laws vary greatly by state; therefore, you should check with your employer, workers comp agency, or lawyer.
In general if the state or federal government has covered the costs of your medical care, they do have a right to file a medical lien on your settlement. These rights depend on the type of government program that has paid for the treatment. For example Medicare and the Veteran’s Administration have different rules and procedures.
Releasing a Lien
It is possible to negotiate with the lien holder and ask them to accept an amount less than what they paid or billed you for. As car accident lawyers, we have negotiated for a lesser amount with doctors, hospitals, therapists, and other medical providers. This reduction of a lien can help you to put more money into your own pocket. However, it is usually only possible with the help of a skilled car accident lawyer Washington, DC offers.
Thanks to Cohen & Cohen, P.C. for their insight into personal injury and car accidents.