The costs associated with an injury can easily pile up long before a lawsuit brings the injured person significant financial relief. A personal injury lien can be a useful tool to help victims get the care they need and pay other bills while the legal process plays out. In a personal injury lien, the injured person enters into an agreement that gives creditors a legal claim over the anticipated proceeds from a future settlement or court judgment. In exchange, the injured person gets at least a degree of relief from the short-term financial pressures of dealing with a serious injury.
The pros and cons of paying for medical services with a lien
A common type of lien in personal injury cases is the medical lien, in which a healthcare provider like a hospital treats the injured person in exchange for a promise that it will be paid out of proceeds from the injured person’s lawsuit. This can happen if the injured person doesn’t have adequate insurance coverage to pay medical expenses, whether because the policy’s limits are too low, the deductibles are too expensive, or because the injured person simply isn’t insured at all.
One problem with trying to pay for medical services with a lien is that many doctors and hospitals won’t accept liens in lieu of payment. That is in part because the compensation received at the resolution of a lawsuit may not cover the entire bill, and there’s always the risk that the suit resolves in the defendant’s favor and the injured person is left holding an impossible amount of debt.
Another problem has to do with the way medical billing works. Insurance companies negotiate bulk discounts with caregivers, but a medical lien will ordinarily fetch full market prices for everything. Care organizations do this in part because they can get paid more at the resolution of a lawsuit. But if the injured person winds up personally responsible for a portion of medical costs, they can be substantially more than if an insurer had been involved.
Other types of liens in personal injury cases
Medical expenses aren’t the only kind of lien to arise during a personal injury case. Quite often, a plaintiff’s insurance carriers—including auto, health, and workers’ compensation—will take out a lien against the final compensation in the case, on the grounds that they should be reimbursed for their costs associated with the injury. The same is true of Medicaid and Medicare, which are legally entitled to liens against final compensation awards for any injuries that get treated at their expense.
An experienced Las Vegas personal injury attorney can help
A lien is a complex instrument that can have unintended consequences for someone’s financial wellbeing. The good news is that liens are often negotiable. It’s important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney before entering into one, or if one is thrust upon you, because it may not lead to the best outcome in terms of both care and the amount you take home from a settlement or judgment.
Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez is committed to helping our Las Vegas personal injury clients get the most compensation possible for their injuries. We take the time to really get to know our clients and understand the full scope of what they’re going through as a consequence of their injuries, and then tailor our approach to each case accordingly. If you have been injured and you’re wondering if a personal injury lien might offer you some relief, please be sure to consult with an attorney beforehand. Our attorneys are available for free consultations. Please call us today at 702-388-4476, or reach out to us through our contact page.