Medical liens are quite common, much to the surprise of many insurance policyholders. Typically, they involve an insurance company, state government, or hospital demanding repayment of the money spent on the medical bills of an accident victim from the individual’s personal injury settlement.
Typically, when you get into an accident, your insurance company or another third party pays for your treatment. If you file a personal injury claim to regain the money spent on your medical bills, your insurer or whoever took responsibility for your medical expenses can also demand that you repay whatever they paid as part of your medical expenses through a medical lien.
This process is generally called a subrogation. Some insurance companies usually include a subrogation in an insurance policy. However, some states in the US prohibit this move. That said, confirm what is attainable in your region before paying for insurance.
Medical Liens and Hospitals: How Does it Work?
In some states across the US, hospitals can demand that an accident victim repay any amount spent on their treatment by the healthcare provider. Typically, some healthcare centers require patients to agree to pay back their medical bills from their personal injury settlement by signing a lien letter.
This letter gives the hospital the right to recover money spent on the victim’s treatment from their settlement. However, there are strict regulations guiding this process, and healthcare providers must follow them. Some of the prerequisites under a hospital lien include:
- The healthcare provider’s name and address alongside the address and name of the victim must be included in the lien claim.
- The hospital must file the lien in the county recorder’s office within a period of 180 days after the victim has been discharged.
The hospital cannot enforce the lien if it does not meet these requirements. Of course, this doesn’t absolve you from paying your hospital bills; however, it means your healthcare provider cannot recoup the money spent from your personal injury settlement.
Work-related Injuries and Workers Compensation Liens
A worker’s compensation lien is a lien filed if you suffered an injury due to an accident at the workplace and your medical expenses were covered by the worker’s compensation fund of your state. Like the standard medical lien, you’ll repay whatever the worker’s compensation fund spent on your treatment from your settlement.
That said, the laws guiding worker’s compensation lines vary depending on the state; as such, you should carry out due diligence to find out the regulations in your region.
Understanding Government Liens and Unpaid Medicaid and Medicare
Generally, the government has the right to regain any amount paid for your medical bills if they took responsibility for your treatment and after you’ve received your settlement from the guilty party.
However, the rights to your settlement differ based on the government insurance program and agency (Medicaid and Medicare). For example, some agencies can recover a percentage of what they spent on your treatment from your settlement.
Negotiating a Medical Lien
Typically, you can get your insurance company, government insurance program, or healthcare provider to reclaim less than what they spent on your medical expenses from your settlement. However, you’ll require an attorney to pull this off.
For example, some medical liens may be significantly larger than the personal injury settlement. In this scenario, the accident victims may not file a personal injury claim. Their attorney may also negotiate with their insurance company, healthcare provider, or worker’s comp carrier to pay a lien less than the initial amount.
Get an Attorney
State Laws guiding medical liens aren’t straightforward, and you’ll need a qualified attorney to help you navigate a lien claim. If you’re having trouble finding a lawyer in your state or county, reach out to us so we can connect you with one ASAP. We cover multiple states in the US, with trustworthy attorneys in various practice areas.