If you’ve been injured in an accident in which you were not at fault, you may be able to receive compensation for your medical bills and other damages. If you decide to pursue a personal injury case, you should be aware of medical liens. They are very common in these types of cases.
A medical lien is a binding contract which states that you must pay back the entity that covered your medical bills following your accident. This entity could be a medical provider, a hospital, West Virginia’s workers’ comp fund or a government program like Medicaid. Once you receive a settlement for your personal injury case, these entities reserve the right to make a claim against it.
Let’s take a closer look at the different types of medical liens.
Workers’ Comp Liens
If the accident was work-related, then West Virginia’s workers’ compensation fund might cover your medical bills and lost wages. After you receive a settlement for your case, a workers’ comp lien may be filed against it. The lien typically amounts to whatever the state’s workers’ comp fund paid for your case. However, you should always consult a lawyer to see if West Virginia’s laws even allow the carrier to assert a lien on your settlement. This might not always be the case.
Hospital and Medical Provider Liens
In some states, hospitals can file a lien in order to be repaid for monies spent on treating an individual injured in an accident. Hospitals must follow specific requirements in order for the lien to be valid.
For example, it must be filed in the recorder’s office in the hospital’s county within 180 days of your release from the facility. Also, the lien should have your proper name, address and dates of service, and the proper name and address of the hospital. When these statutes aren’t met, the hospital lien is no longer enforceable.
Medical providers can also use a binding lien to receive repayment for their services. They may ask you to sign a lien letter which states that your lawyer will pay them back for your medical treatment before you receive any money for your case. Like hospital liens, there is a strict protocol that the provider must follow.
Generally, if a government entity like Medicaid or Medicare paid for any portion of your treatment, they reserve the right to be repaid if you end up recovering funds in a settlement or from another party. Depending on the program, each one has certain rights in terms of placing a medical lien against your settlement. They may recover at least a part of your personal injury lawsuit proceeds.
Releasing and Negotiating Medical Liens
As you can see, medical liens start to get complicated depending on the entity that’s seeking repayment. A personal injury attorney can help you get certain lien claims reduced or even released depending on the circumstances of your case.
If you’ve been injured in an accident, please contact us at Stewart Bell, PLLC. We’re happy to take a look at your case and help you determine the best next steps. We look forward to hearing from you.