Important: Don’t Settle Your Case without Understanding How Liens Come into Play
Personal injury cases take time – sometimes a year or longer. Whether the insurance company agrees to pay a fair settlement or your case ends up going to trial, you are generally going to incur significant medical expenses before you receive compensation for your injuries. Your doctor and the hospital may agree to wait until the end of your case for payment; or, you may have to use Medicare, your own health insurance, or another source to pay your bills. These payors likely have liens against your personal injury recovery.
1. What is a lien?
A lien is a legal right to take possession of someone else’s property. In a car accident case, it is the right for a doctor, hospital, insurance company, employer, or the government to receive a portion of your settlement or court verdict. Personal injury liens can generally arise one of two ways – either:
- A medical provider agrees to wait for your case to be resolved before requiring you to pay your bills, or
- You receive benefits under an insurance policy or from a government program that you are required to repay if you receive compensation from another source.
2. Who can place a lien on my personal injury settlement?
There are a number of different parties that may be entitled to place a lien on your personal injury settlement. These include:
- Doctors, hospitals, and other medical care providers
- Your auto insurance company (if you used your medical payment coverage)
- Your health insurance company
- MaineCare (Medicaid)
- Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance provider
Certain entities that either allow you to delay payment or actually make payments on your behalf are entitled to place liens on your settlement or court award. However, lien issues can get complicated very quickly, so it is important to work with an attorney who can help you understand your options, obligations, and legal rights.
3. How can I make sure liens don’t take up my entire settlement?
Making sure liens don’t take up your entire settlement requires experienced legal representation. If you settle too early or for less than you are owed, you may risk your entire settlement going to pay your outstanding bills and liens. If your medical care provider has agreed to delay payment, you may even still owe money after your case is over. To make sure you pocket as much money as possible, you need an attorney who is knowledgeable about lien and reimbursement issues.
Download The Maine Car Accident Book
For more information about how liens can impact your car accident claim, we invite you to download The Maine Car Accident Book. This is a valuable resource that our attorneys have written in order to provide accident victims with the key information they need after suffering injuries in a collision.
More Answers to Car Accident FAQs
Schedule a Free Consultation about Your Maine Car Accident Claim
At Fales & Fales, P.A., we have decades of experience helping clients with complex lien issues while fighting to ensure that they receive maximum compensation for their car accident injuries. If you would like to speak with an attorney about your case, contact our offices in Lewiston, ME, to schedule a free consultation today.