If you are involved in a personal injury case, there is a good chance that your health insurance company will file a lien against the settlement or verdict. This can be confusing and frustrating for people already dealing with the aftermath of an accident.
Contact The Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor today for a free consultation to discuss your case. Our personal injury attorneys can help you understand your rights and options. We will fight to get you the compensation you deserve.
What Is a Lien?
A lien is a claim against someone’s assets, such as a car, house, etc. Creditors impose liens to secure payment of debts.
Personal Injury Liens
In a personal injury claim, liens are generally placed on the potential recovery of compensation. If you receive a settlement or verdict, the lienholder will be entitled to a portion of the money.
A medical lien is a demand for payment that may be placed against a potential personal injury settlement or verdict. Medical liens act like a lien against a car loan. It attaches to the proceeds of your settlement with the insurance company or your attorney.
Health Insurance Companies and Medical Liens
After an accident, your health insurance policy may cover some of the expenses related to your injuries caused by the accident. However, your health insurance deductible, co-pays, and other out-of-pocket expenses can quickly add up, creating significant financial burdens.
While North Carolina state law prohibits private health insurers from including clauses related to subrogation, it does not stop insurance companies from attaching a lien to an accident victim’s recovery under federal law. If you are covered by Medicaid or Medicare, for example, then you have a lien on your personal injury case. It is important to discuss any and all health insurance policies that may have paid toward your accident-related treatment with your attorney so any potential liens can be properly addressed.
How Does a Medical Lien Affect Me?
Having a lien on your personal injury case can have several consequences. First, it can delay the distribution of funds from your case. Second, it can reduce the amount of money you receive, as the lienholder will be paid first.
It is important to understand your rights and options regarding liens on your personal injury case. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you navigate this process and protect your interests.
Who Else Can Make a Lien Claim in Greenville, NC?
In addition to health insurance companies, many other entities may place a lien on your personal injury case. These can include:
Doctors and Medical Providers
If you cannot pay for expenses related to your medical treatment, providers may claim a lien against the compensation you recover. This is known as a physician lien.
When your case settles, a portion of the proceeds goes to the healthcare providers who treated you after the accident. However, healthcare providers must follow certain procedures to perfect their lien. If they do not, they may not be able to collect on the debt out of the settlement proceeds. They must:
- Provide you or your lawyer with all medical records in your case
- Notify you or your lawyer of the lien in writing
- Provide you or your lawyer with all of the medical bills you have incurred
If these three conditions are not met, the provider may not have a valid claim for payment out of the settlement proceeds. At The Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor, we will review your medical records and bills to ensure that all liens are valid.
Medicaid and Medicare
Medicaid is a government-sponsored health insurance program for low-income individuals and families. Medicare is a similar program for seniors and disabled individuals. These programs automatically have a lien on your personal injury case if they paid for treatment you have received after your accident as a result of your injuries.
Medicaid liens are capped by law at one-third of your financial recovery, and plaintiffs in North Carolina can file a petition to have the lien further reduced.
Medicare liens only apply to cases involving the elderly and other qualified individuals, but there are opportunities for reduction in these claims as well that are either statutory or equity-based.
State and Federal Health Insurance Programs
If you participate in a Federal Health Insurance Program, such as a US postal worker, paying attention to liens placed on your recovery is important. In North Carolina, State Health Plan liens are perfected automatically. This leaves accident victims with little room to challenge the validity of the lien.
However, the State Health Plan cannot claim more than 50 percent of your settlement and it can only recover against third party payors, not first-party claims such as uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.
Is There a Cap on Medical Liens in Greenville, NC?
The answer depends on the type of health insurance you have. According to one North Carolina law, generally plaintiffs shall pay no more than 50% of their settlement or verdict after an attorney’s fee is deducted. However, medical liens can be complex as some health insurance policies are not entitled to any lien, subrogation or right of reimbursement. Other types of health insurance plans, such as a valid ERISA plan, may be entitled to more.
How Can I Get Rid of a Lien in North Carolina?
In some personal injury claims, you may be able to get rid of a lien or reduce the amount of the lien. This can be done by negotiating with the lienholder or, in some cases, filing a motion with the court.
It is important to note that you should not try to get rid of a lien on your own. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you navigate this process, protect your interests and maximize your recovery.
How to Deal With Health Insurance Liens
If you are dealing with a health insurance lien on your personal injury case, the best thing to do is to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney. An attorney can review your case and determine if a health insurance company has any legal right to part of your settlement or judgment.
At The Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor, we have experience dealing with health insurance liens and other complex issues in personal injury cases. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. We will work hard to protect your interests and get you the compensation you deserve.
If you are injured in a car accident or other accident, there are options available to you. At The Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor, we can help you understand your rights and options under the law. Contact us today for a free consultation. We serve clients in Greenville, NC, and throughout Pitt County.