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How Medical Liens Are Used in Personal Injury Cases

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Personal injury lawsuits can take time to settle or otherwise resolve. In the meantime, the accident victim still needs medical care. The victim plaintiff may or may not be able to afford their medical bills while waiting for the personal injury case to shake out. The hospital may delay repayment for care, the victim’s own insurance may foot the bill, or some other party may cover the costs. The party who pays the bills may then seek to place a medical lien on the personal injury case. A medical lien can significantly reduce the amount the plaintiff accident victim winds up keeping after a personal injury settlement or verdict. Read on to learn about how medical liens factor into personal injury cases and how you can protect your personal injury settlement in New York. If you were injured in a car accident or otherwise as a result of someone else’s negligence in the Hudson Valley, call a dedicated Kingston traffic accident lawyer for help.

What is a Medical Lien?

A lien is a legal claim or right against an asset, typically used to resolve a debt. When you buy a house, for example, your home loan creates a mortgage lien against your house–if you default on your mortgage, the bank can sell off the house in order to recoup the amounts still due on the loan.

In a personal injury matter, the party who paid for the plaintiff’s medical bills can assert a medical lien (or hospital lien) against the victim’s ultimate personal injury award (be it through settlement or verdict). The purpose of the lien is to give the payer the right to recover the amount they spent on the plaintiff’s medical care by taking it from the personal injury case. The whole purpose of the personal injury matter is to get someone else (such as the at-fault driver) to pay for the plaintiff’s damages; whoever has been covering the costs of care in the meantime may have the right to ask for their money back.

Who Imposes Medical Liens in Personal Injury Cases?

Depending upon the circumstances of the plaintiff and the nature of the case, a few different parties might assert a medical lien in a personal injury case. Most commonly, medical liens are used in the following circumstances:

  • The hospital or other healthcare provider “donated” care. When a hospital receives an uninsured patient after an accident, they’ll still provide medical care. They may choose to delay the costs of care until the plaintiff’s legal claims are resolved. The patient and the healthcare provider would enter into an agreement under which the healthcare organization agrees to provide medical care to the patient in exchange for placing a lien on the proceeds of the personal injury case.
  • A plaintiff’s medical bills are covered by a government entity, such as Medicare or Medicaid. The government has the right to seek repayment by way of a medical lien.
  • The plaintiff’s medical bills are covered by workers’ compensation. If the plaintiff was injured by a third party and has the right to seek damages, the workers’ comp insurance providers may place a medical lien on the personal injury proceeds to recoup the workers’ comp benefits.
  • The plaintiff’s health insurance company or other insurance provider covered the plaintiff’s medical care after the injurious event. The insurance company can then place a lien against the settlement or verdict proceeds to recover the benefits paid. In New York, however, health insurance companies typically cannot assert a lien against a personal injury settlement.

It’s important to keep in mind that there is room for negotiation as to how a lien will be repaid. With the help of a seasoned New York personal injury lawyer, you can negotiate the terms of your lien, dispute the total costs you would owe pursuant to the lien, and otherwise protect a greater part of your personal injury award.

Tried and True Legal Assistance With a Hudson Valley Personal Injury Claim

If you or someone you love has been hurt by another negligent person in New York, find out if you’re entitled to money damages for your injuries by contacting the experienced and effective Hudson Valley personal injury lawyers at Rusk, Wadlin, Heppner & Martuscello, LLP for a free consultation at 845-331-4100 (Kingston) or 845-236-4411 (Marlboro).

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