After an accident, what’s most important is making sure injured victims receive the medical treatment they need: ambulance transportation, emergency room care, X-rays, surgery, hospitalization, anesthesia, medication, physical therapy and more. The cost of medical treatment and rehabilitation can quickly add up, and in serious cases, result in medical bills that run six figures or even higher.
What a Lien Means
The doctors, hospitals, rehabilitation centers and others that provide medical treatment to an injured party can issue a lien against future settlements or court awards paid out by certain types of insurers.
- In personal injury cases, a lien is a legal agreement in which the lien holders (primarily doctors and hospitals) will forego up-front payment for the services they provide, in exchange for receiving reimbursement from a settlement or award later.
- In New York, private health insurers cannot be lien holders. However, insurers in no-fault settlements, federal public health insurers (Medicare and Medicaid) and certain Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) policy issuers can be.
- If you’re injured while working in New York and receive workers’ compensation benefits, the insurer can issue a lien to cover payment for medical bills and lost time on the job.
Work with Your Lawyer
Some injured parties enter into liens with doctors and hospitals on their own. That is their right. It can be helpful, however, to have an attorney’s expertise from the beginning if you are hurt and facing substantial medical bills:
- An attorney can negotiate with the lien holder and reach an agreement on a reduced amount that must be repaid. Some doctors and hospitals would rather not enter into a lien agreement. In this instance, an attorney can negotiate a payment plan.
- Liens are paid from a legal settlement or court award. If an attorney is involved at the start of a lien agreement, he or she can calculate lien repayment into the settlement demand so that the client receives the greatest financial benefit possible.
- An attorney will ensure liens are properly reported to the relevant agencies – a step the client might overlook – and paid out at settlement. If liens are not repaid, the lien holder can take legal action against the injured party to recover the amount owed.
Do not Negotiate a Personal Injury Lien Alone
Remember, once a personal injury lien is established, it stays in place until the agreed-upon debt is paid in full. If you are injured and health care providers are seeking to negotiate a lien, it’s important to have experienced and knowledgeable representation at your side. Call (914) 222-8161 or contact us online to discuss your case with a Sayegh & Sayegh personal injury attorney today.