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What is a Medical Lien in a Personal Injury Case?

The term “liens” is something that scares a lot of people. It essentially refers to claims against your property and assets that can be legally applied by creditors. Many people can be shocked to learn that even when you’re the victim in a personal injury suit, you can still have liens placed against you while you pursue compensation for the accident in which you suffered harm.

Fortunately, you can breathe a bit easier in these situations—the lien they place isn’t against your house or car, it’s not against your regular salary, your business or other personal assets. It’s just against the proceeds you’ll eventually collect from the case. Learn about medical liens in a personal injury case, what they are, who can collect, and how it will affect the proceeds you get from your case.

Medical Liens in a Personal Injury Case

There are a number of liens that can be levied by creditors in your personal injury case. These include just about anyone who has helped to charge or pay for medical costs while you pursue damages. Parties that can issue such liens include your insurance provider, medical providers including hospitals, worker’s comp providers and even the government for unpaid Medicaid or Medicare.

Insurance Company Liens

If you’re using your own insurance, be it health or auto, to cover treatments, they have a right to be repaid once you collect damages that are ostensibly intended to cover the same treatments. As such, through a process called subrogation, the insurance provider can attach your settlement for repayment. The exact terms of how this works depends largely on the language in individual insurance policies.

Medical Liens

In many cases, hospitals may agree to payment plans or deferred payments for treatments you undergo while seeking a resolution to your case. In such cases, they might ask you to sign a letter that agrees to them submitting a lien against the settlement.

In order for these liens to be legitimate, they must follow certain statutory requirements, including filing the lien in the county recorder’s office within 6 months of your release; and including all of your proper and accurate information as well as the hospital’s information and dates of treatment.

Worker’s Comp Liens

If you’ve been injured in a work accident, a worker’s comp lien can be issued to collect money if the bills and lost wages were paid by state worker’s compensation funds. Usually, this lien will be the same amount that you have received so far, but it can change based on the circumstances of your case.

Medicaid and Medicare Liens

In general, if the government stepped in to cover any part of your medical treatments, they can file a lien to get repaid if you receive injury money from another source later on. The exact type and rights of these agencies will vary from agency to agency, whether you’ve been paid by the VA, Medicare, Medicaid or another service.

Working with an Attorney

Because liens can be tricky and can sometimes seem to come out of nowhere, it’s important to work with a competent personal injury attorney. A good lawyer can work to release or negotiate payments for liens in your personal injury case and can make sure you’re taken care of. If you need legal help in an Oklahoma injury case, contact Parrish DeVaughn for help today.

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