Understanding How Medical Liens Affect Your Personal Injury Case

If you have been hurt in an auto accident through no fault of your own, you may have used your own healthcare insurance to cover your medical bills. It's very important for accident victims to seek medical help after an accident, and it's not uncommon for some victims to show their insurance cards when they are admitted to the emergency room or hospital. If that occurs, it can affect your settlement, and it's vital that victims understand this issue before they agree to settle. Read on and find out more.

Medical Expenses are Covered

The at-fault driver owes you for your medical expenses and for much more. However, there can be delays in coverage, forcing some individuals to use their insurance. Once your healthcare insurer learns that your injury was the result of an accident, they may want to subrogate, or reserve, some of any potential settlement to ensure that they are paid back from the other driver's insurance policy. This is very common and is normally not a problem for victims. However, it can affect your settlement in two main ways.

  1. You could face delays in settling – Even though settling an accident case is a lot faster than taking the other side to court, that does not mean settlements are always quick and easy. If your healthcare insurer has put a hold, or a lien, on your settlement, it must be resolved before you can be paid any of your money. For example, if your insurer paid $20,000 of your medical expenses and your settlement is for $150,000, the entire settlement will be held pending payment of those funds back to the insurer. Once paid, your funds are released.
  2. You could be paid less compensation than you anticipated – Another problem is when victims don't take that lien into account when they agree to a settlement. You should check your healthcare insurer's explanations of benefits to determine what to expect. Don't accept a settlement without doing the math and deducting the amount your healthcare insurer is expecting to be paid.

Preventing Problems

To keep you from being disappointed, speak to a personal injury lawyer about your case. They understand how health insurance liens work and can take any liens into consideration when calculating your settlement. In addition, they can work with the insurer to settle the lien so that you can be paid quickly after an accident. Contact a law firm like Siben & Siben LLP to find out more about how a medical lien can affect your settlement.