If you’ve been involved in a personal injury case, you’ve likely heard the term “medical lien” used quite often. Ultimately, medical liens are pretty common in personal injury settlements and are used to ensure that the party who initially paid for your medical treatment will be paid back.
So if you’ve received compensation in your personal injury case, don’t be surprised if the state or federal government, a health insurance company or a hospital makes a claim against your winnings. This is standard practice. We’ll go over what kinds of medical liens there are and what you can expect following your settlement.
Hospital and Medical Provider Liens
After filing a personal injury lawsuit to cover medical bills from injuries sustained in an accident, the entity that paid for these bills may file a medical lien against your claim. In Maine, hospitals may even file a lien for repayment. Additionally, medical providers may ask for your signature on a lien letter which states that you yield to a lien in order to have your medical service costs repaid.
There are strict rules regarding this type of medical provider lien, so be sure to consult a personal injury lawyer if you suspect protocol was broken. Hospitals should file liens in the recorder’s office in the county where it is situated within 180 days of your release. The lien must also have your correct name, address, dates of service and the name and address of the hospital where you were treated.
Liens are not enforceable if a protocol is not followed.
State and Federal Government Liens
Generally, the government has the right to be repaid if they covered any portion of your treatment and you recovered money for your injuries from another entity. There are different types of government programs such as Medicaid, Medicare and the Veteran’s Administration that have specific rights in terms of asserting a lien against your personal injury settlement. Consult a lawyer to learn about the circumstances in which Maine’s agencies can try to recover money from your lawsuit.
Workers’ Comp Liens
If you were injured in an accident at work and Maine’s workers’ comp fund paid for your medical bills and lost wages, a lien may be issued. This lien usually amounts to whatever workers’ comp has paid for your personal injury case. The laws for workers’ compensation liens vary from state-to-state, so it’s important to make sure this lien is valid in the state of Maine.
Once a medical lien is issued, negotiation is entirely possible. Lien holders may agree to accept less than what they paid and a personal injury lawyer can even get claims reduced for you. For example, if your workers’ comp carrier files a lien that will likely exceed your total settlement earnings, you may choose not to sue. In this case, a lawyer can negotiate with the carrier so the lien is reduced to an amount well below the value of your claim and you can proceed with the lawsuit.
An attorney will help you determine whether an entity is within their rights when asserting a medical lien. Contact us at Lowry Law so we can help you navigate through the complicated, nuanced subject of medical liens. We will work to have it reduced or even eliminated on your behalf.