If you’ve been injured in a car collision or another type of accident, you may have filed a personal injury suit to recover medical costs, lost wages, etc. from whoever was at fault. In many instances, these lawsuits provide the help you need to fully recover, both physically and financially, from an accident. Of course, you realize that your personal injury lawyer will be paid out of your settlement. However, you may not realize that other entities may claim part of the settlement as well. You may well be served with a medical lien from your insurance company, doctor or hospital. If you received Medicaid, Medicare, or VA assistance, the government may also file a medical lien against your settlement. You will need the help of an experienced attorney to deal with these liens and minimize your financial repayments.
You may think that valid insurance payments are final. Once you or your doctor gets the check, the matter should be over. Sadly, that is not always the case. If your insurance company paid medical claims generated from your accident, they may pursue a subrogationclaim. That means they will work to get as much of their money back as they can from other third-party payments. To ensure they get this money, they might file a medical lien against any personal injury settlement you seek or accept. They may try to recover all of the money, or they may settle for a portion of what they paid out for your medical care.
Arizona does allow insurance companies recourse through medical liens, although not all states do. Individual health insurance policies should explain whether they will pursue subrogation in case of a settlement. Your lawyer can study the language in your policy to determine what steps the insurance company can take.
Hospital and Medical Provider Claims
Arizona also allows hospitals and other medical providers to file medical liens against their patients, and the courthas upheld their right to collect money from those enrolled in the state’s Medicaid system. Some of these providers will ask you to sign a letter that agrees to these collection methods. Hospitals must follow state statutes in order to file these liens. For instance, the lien will need to be filed within a certain number of days in the recorder’s office where the hospital is located. The lien must also have the correct name, address, hospital name and stay dates to be valid. If the lien is not correct, it cannot be enforced.
Government Medical Liens
The federal governmentmay work slowly, but they are likely to come after some of your settlement money if you received federal medical benefits. Upon filing a medical lien, you have 60 days to pay before you incur penalties or risk the amount doubling. While they expect you to pay up quickly, they can take their time coming after your settlement. In fact, they have up to six years to file their claim.
Fortunately, the Benefits Coordination and Recovery Center (BCRC), the department in charge of these reimbursement efforts, is generally pretty flexible with payment amounts if you or your lawyer negotiate with them. If you can prove hardship, you may only pay a fraction of the original amount and even forgo paying interest.
Private Insurance Company Collections
You should never simply pay a medical lien from your insurance company. Your lawyer may be able to negotiate a favorable settlement with them as well. Although, they may not be as amenable as the government. Experts say that these companies might take your continued medical needs into consideration as well as the loss of income you may still be suffering if the accident affected your employment status.
Insurance companies also don’t want to deter filing of personal injury cases by asking for too much of the settlement. If all the money will go to your medical providers, then you will not want to put yourself through what could be a lengthy and complicated process. They may settle for a little rather than get nothing.
Saving Your Settlement Money
Unfortunately, some people get their settlement money and quickly spend the bulk of it, only to be hit with a delayed government lien or demands from the hospital to honor your lien agreement. Your lawyer can advise you on how best to protect yourself by setting aside money to cover these claims. Sometimes all you need to do is put some money into a savings account in case of delayed financial demands.
The Schmidt Law Group
In Arizona, the Schmidt Law Groupcan help you successfully file a personal injury lawsuit and aid you with any medical lien claims. They have decades of experience in this area and know how to best protect your interests under Arizona law. They will help you to keep as much of your personal injury settlement as possible so you can rebuild your life. The money is meant to benefit you and your family as you recover from your injuries.
Personal injury settlements can help you regain power in your life. Medical liens can take a large percentage of your settlement amount away if you do not handle them appropriately. Once you have won your case, you don’t want to lose the benefits afterward. Make certain that you are well-informed and also have the legal help that you need. Seek expert legal advice from The Schmidt Law Group when you have been injured in an accident or served with a medical lien. For more information, call 602-282-0047 or fill out their free case evaluationform online.