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How a Medical Lien Might Affect Your Personal Injury Settlement

If you have been injured due to the negligence of another person and are awaiting a settlement of your legal claim, you may need to work out an arrangement with your health care provider for payment of medical bills that are not fully covered by your own insurance. One way to do this is through utilization of a medical lien.

Medical treatment should not be delayed until a settlement is agreed upon and paid, but medical professionals want their money at or soon after the time of service. It’s all but impossible to find a doctor who will treat you and then wait to get paid after you receive your settlement. In a property damage claim, an insurance company may pay its insured’s damages and then seek reimbursement directly from the at-fault party — a process known as subrogation. However, California law does not allow that option for personal injury claims.

A medical lien may help solve that dilemma. It is essentially a contract between the doctor and the injured victim, whereby the doctor agrees to provide all treatment as needed and the victim agrees to pay the doctor’s bills upon receiving the personal injury settlement. That seems like a good plan, but it depends on the eventual success of the legal claim. How can a doctor or other medical provider realistically evaluate the potential strength of the personal injury case?

This is where a personal injury lawyer familiar with medical liens can be invaluable. A respected and experienced attorney can provide reassurance to a doctor that a case is indeed viable. Once an agreement is reached, the doctor sends notice of the agreement to the other party, thereby perfecting the lien. The doctor will receive payment directly from the other party or its insurer once the claim is settled.

Note that there is no absolute guarantee a lawsuit will be won or the recovery will cover 100 percent of the medical bills. The injured party still owes the doctor for the value of the care provided to the extent it is not covered by the actual amount of the recovery.

Different considerations apply if you are covered through Medi-Cal, Medicare, the VA, ERISA or workers compensation. These types of insurance will pay for your medical treatment on a no-fault basis as your costs arise. However, if you win a settlement or money judgment in your personal injury case, these insurers are given a statutory lien against the amount you recover.

The complexity of medical liens underscores the need for experienced counsel. If you’ve been hurt in a California car accident, Patterson Law is ready to assist you in obtaining the compensation you may be entitled to. Based in Santa Barbara, we primarily serve clients in Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties. Contact us online or call {PHONE} for an initial consultation.