Published in Personal Injury on May 23, 2019.
There is no doubt that being involved in an accident that results in personal injuries can be expensive. To be sure, healthcare costs alone often total into the tens of thousands of dollars, or even into the hundreds of thousands of dollars depending upon the severity of the injury.
While these expenses may be covered by your health insurance company, or a government-funded program, such as Medicaid or Medicare, if you recover damages in a personal injury settlement, a medical lien may be filed against you.
Our personal injury lawyers at the offices of Eskew Law can guide you through medical liens, personal injury settlements, and what you need to know about repayment to the party who paid your medical expenses.
What Is a Medical Lien?
To put it succinctly, a lien is a demand for repayment. When a hospital or healthcare provider spends money on treating a patient, the hospital/provider has the right to demand repayment. However, in order to file a medical lien, there are certain rules that the hospital must follow. For example, the lien must include certain details at the time that it is filed, and must be filed within a set amount of time.
Health Insurance Subrogation
It is not just a hospital or healthcare provider that may issue a lien against you for unpaid medical debt, but also your health insurance company or another party who paid for your medical expenses, such as a government entity or a workers’ compensation insurer.
When a third party that originally paid for medical benefits, via a benefit plan (typically), seeks repayment for these expenses following a personal injury settlement, this is known as subrogation.
While health insurance is designed to pay for your medical expenses, if liability and damages have been determined and it is concluded that another’s negligence was the cause of your harm (and the source of your medical expenses), then the health insurance company that paid your expenses will argue that the defendant/at-fault party should be held liable, and therefore it should be repaid for expenses.
Do I Have to Pay My Health Insurance Company or the Hospital After Receiving a Personal Injury Settlement?
If you have unpaid medical debt that is owed to a hospital or provider or if your health insurance company or another party which paid your medical expenses and you have recovered damages in a personal injury claim, it is very likely that you will face a medical lien or subrogation claim.
Personal injury settlements usually result in medical liens and subrogation claims; however, that does not necessarily mean that you will have to pay the full amount of the lien.
In fact, it is very possible to negotiate a lien and pay back less than the amount that the provider originally paid. Not only does Indiana Code Section 34-51-2-19 hold that the value of a lien/subrogation claim must be diminished by the comparative fault of the injured party or/and the “reason of uncollectibility of the full value of the claim…resulting from limited liability insurance…” but a skilled lawyer may also be able to negotiate your lien and reduce the amount that you are required to pay back to fully satisfy the lien or claim.
The Importance of Working with an Attorney
Working with a skilled attorney is very important when navigating a personal injury claim, and is equally as valuable if you are facing health insurance liens or a subrogation claim.
Your attorney can review the details of your health insurance policy to determine whether or not subrogation is even permitted in your case and, if it is, can negotiate your lien amount and protect your best interests.
Successful lien reduction helps increase the amount of financial recovery to the injured party at the end of the case. Additionally, working with a lawyer can also help to ensure that you do not wind up with outstanding medical debt for failure to repay medical expenses.
Call the Office of Eskew Law Today
After settling a personal injury claim, the last thing that you want to deal with is a lien filed against you. If you are facing a subrogation claim or a medical lien, our lawyers at the offices of Eskew Law can guide you through your rights and the law.
To learn more, please reach out to us today for a consultation by calling us directly or sending us a message requesting more information.