Protecting Yourself Against A Medical Lien

Posted on: 17 November 2014


The average person has no idea what a medical lien is until they've been slapped with one. For many, their first encounter with this type of legal matter is after they have received medical treatment for injuries related to a personal injury case. Medical liens are a process that aims to ensure any party that paid for your treatment is repaid, once you have received compensation in your case. Provider and Hospital and Government liens are the most common.

Provider And Hospital Liens

Depending on the laws in your state, both your health care providers and the hospital you received care at may be authorized to file a lien for repayment against you. This type of lien is often filed when the injured party does not have health insurance.

If you have health insurance, the hospital has to bill your insurance company for the balance of your bill. Only if there is an issue with your coverage can this type of medical lien be filed. Additionally, you have to sign off authorizing the lien. Provider and hospital liens cannot be legally filed without your proper consent.

Government Liens

If your medical treatment and care was covered under a government program like Medicaid or Medicare, you will likely have a medical lien filed against your settlement. Unlike hospitals and providers, the state you live in doesn't determine if the federal government has a right to be repaid for the treatment they covered and you don't have to give consent for the lien.

If a government-based health care program paid for your medical care and you receive compensation from another party for those injuries, the government must be repaid. Generally, when you have government lien filed against your suit, the government will get their share of your settlement before it ever reaches your hands.

What Can Your Attorney Do?

While you shouldn't expect to walk away without repaying for any of your care, there are instances when your attorney may be able to reduce the amount of money you owe. For example, your attorney may be able to negotiate with the third party to get the amount you owe reduced, provided you pay one lump-sum payment by a particular date. Additionally, there are also instances when your attorney can get the lien released if you agree to a payment plan or if the lien was not filed correctly.

It's important that you inform your attorney as soon as possible if you have or will have a medical lien filed against your settlement. The attorney cannot only ensure the validity of the lien but also work hard to get the terms of the lien renegotiated.