If you are injured in an accident in Charlotte, North Carolina, the last thing you want to worry about is how your medical expenses will be covered and what your health insurance carrier may require you to pay after you receive your settlement. Medical treatment for any ailment is expensive and overwhelming. However, when attempting to recover from a car accident while filing a personal injury claim, the stress may be doubled.
In some cases, health insurance companies will place a lien or claim a right of reimbursement on your account to recover payment for their services out of your potential settlement or verdict. This is often an exhausting and complex process for accident victims. If you are pursuing a personal injury lawsuit in Charlotte, NC, it is important to understand the implications of health insurance liens, how they may affect your settlement, and how you can get your medical bills paid.
What is a Medical Lien?
If you are injured in an accident, the hospital or other medical provider will usually send the bill to your health insurance company. Your health insurance company will then pay the provider for the covered services. If you have a co-pay or deductible, you will be responsible for that amount.
However, if you receive a personal injury settlement, the health insurance company may place a lien on your case, demanding that they be reimbursed from the settlement proceeds. This may be referred to as a “medical lien.”
North Carolina Medical and Hospital Lien Laws
Under North Carolina law, medical providers may be able to claim a lien against any third party recovery. If you are in a car accident and receive treatment from the hospital, your insurance company may place a lien or claim a right of reimbursement against your case, demanding that they be repaid out of any settlement you may receive.
To place a lien, the health insurance provider must give written notice stating the amount of debt that needs to be paid out of your settlement. When you receive your settlement, your personal injury attorney is then required to pay the medical liens off if they are valid. However, if medical providers or health insurance companies fail to follow the correct legal procedures to perfect their lien interest, you may not need to pay them at all.
How is a Lien Perfected?
Your medical services provider must comply with your attorney’s request for medical records and medical bills at no cost to preserve their lien interest. If they fail to comply with these requests, they may lose their lien interest in your settlement or judgment, and you will not have to pay them.
How Much Do I Have to Pay on Medical Liens?
Under North Carolina law, plaintiffs in a personal injury case should pay no more than 50% of their settlement or verdict after the attorney’s fee is deducted under North Carolina General Statute §44-49 and §44-50. However, it is important to know that a medical lien is separate from your financial obligation to the insurance company, government agency (such as Medicare or Medicaid), or medical provider.
For instance, if your hospital bill is $30,000 and your medical lien is $10,000, you may still be responsible for the remaining $20,000. These cases are especially complex, but medical liens are generally negotiable in North Carolina. In some circumstances, the lien may be completely eliminated. However, it is important to have an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side to help you navigate these issues.
If you have been injured in an accident, contact the Charlotte personal injury attorneys at The Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor. We can help you understand your rights and options when it comes to dealing with insurance companies and medical liens. We will fight for you to get the full compensation you deserve.