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What Are Medical Liens and How Do They Work in Car Accident Claims?

November 13, 2023

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If you were recently hurt in a crash, getting medical attention for your injuries was likely your first and top priority. However, emergency medical treatment is expensive, especially for injuries suffered in car accidents. Many injury victims don’t have the money to pay their hospital bills in full, right away, or at all. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities want to ensure they get paid for the care they provide, so if they find out you’re filing an injury claim against the at-fault driver, they can place a medical lien against your settlement. 

A medical lien is a legal claim placed on the settlement or judgment of a personal injury case to secure payment for the medical services the healthcare facility provided to the injured party. It allows healthcare providers to have a share of the proceeds from a personal injury settlement or verdict to cover the costs of medical treatment for which they have not already been paid.

How Do Medical Liens Work After Car Accidents?

There are many steps involved in the medical lien process. If you were injured in a car accident and are seeking compensation from the at-fault driver, here are the steps that you can expect to happen:

  1. Get Medical Treatment: After a car accident, you may require immediate medical attention. In such cases, your health should be your top priority, and you should seek medical treatment without hesitation. As your treatment progresses, your healthcare provider will send bills for their services, including hospital stays, surgeries, physical therapy, and other related costs.
  2. Receive and Review the Lien: Once you receive medical treatment, you may receive a notice of a medical lien from your healthcare provider. This notice informs you of their intent to claim a portion of your settlement or judgment to cover the medical expenses they incurred while treating your injuries. It's crucial to carefully review this notice for any errors or inaccuracies. A lawyer can help.
  3. Negotiate the Lien: In some cases, it may be possible to negotiate the medical lien with your healthcare provider or their billing department. While they are legally entitled to seek reimbursement for their services, you may be able to work out a reduced amount or payment plan to satisfy the lien. Having an experienced Ohio car accident attorney on your side can be invaluable during this negotiation process.
  4. Accept (a Fair) Settlement or Judgment: If your personal injury claim is resolved through a settlement or jury verdict in your favor, the at-fault party or their insurer will issue a check to you for the agreed-upon amount. However, before you receive your portion of the settlement, any outstanding medical liens must be paid. The funds designated for the medical lien will be paid directly to your healthcare provider, ensuring they are compensated for their services.
  5. Receive Your Remaining Money: After the medical liens are paid, you will receive the remaining balance from the settlement or judgment. This portion is typically used to cover other expenses you incurred related to the accident, such as lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering.

What’s the Difference Between a Medical Lien and Subrogation?

Medical liens and subrogation are both legal concepts related to the reimbursement of medical expenses in personal injury cases, but they differ in their purpose, parties involved, and the way they operate.

A medical lien is typically asserted before or during the personal injury case, and it involves the healthcare provider placing a claim on any potential settlement or judgment proceeds. The lien must be paid from the settlement or judgment amount before the injured party receives their portion.

Subrogation is a legal doctrine or process used primarily by insurance companies instead of healthcare providers and facilities. It allows an insurance company, such as a health insurance company, that has paid for an insured person's medical expenses to pursue a claim against the third party who may be responsible for causing the injury. The purpose of subrogation is to recover the insurance company's expenses.

Subrogation usually occurs after the injured party's insurance company has already paid for their medical expenses. Once the injured party recovers compensation from the responsible party (or their insurance company), the insurance company seeks reimbursement through subrogation.

Our Ohio Car Accident Lawyers Can Help with Your Medical Lien

Medical liens allow healthcare providers to receive compensation for the medical treatment they provide to injured individuals. Understanding how medical liens work and how to navigate them is crucial for ensuring that you receive the full and fair compensation for your injuries.

If you've been involved in a car accident in Ohio and are facing medical liens, the Ohio auto accident attorneys at Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy want to help. Our legal team can help you negotiate with healthcare providers, ensure that liens are paid, and help you maximize your compensation.

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