When you are injured in an accident, you need to seek medical attention. Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may need surgery, physical therapy, and follow-up medical care. The cost of medical care in an accident case can quickly add into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Some accident victims have health insurance or Med Pay insurance that can help pay some of the bills. However, many accident victims have thousands of dollars in outstanding medical bills. Because the insurance company for the other driver will not pay any medical costs until the case is settled, the bills could be outstanding for months or years while your case is being negotiated or litigated.
To receive the medical care you need, your doctor may require that you sign a medical lien to cover the costs of your care. What does this mean for your settlement?
What is a Doctor’s Medical Lien?
A doctor’s medical lien is used by some medical providers when a patient does not have the ability to pay for medical care, and an injury claim is pending. The lien allows the patient to receive medical care without worrying about payment of the bills until the personal injury claim is settled. However, there are a few issues with medical liens that patients should be aware of before signing the lien.
Even though the “lien” is typically a document signed in the doctor’s office, the document is a legally binding contract. You agree to pay the doctor from the proceeds of your personal injury settlement. However, you also agree to be personally liable for the expenses if you do not receive any money for your claim or the money you receive from your claim is not sufficient to pay the medical debt.
In addition, your attorney is legally required to pay any medical liens from the proceeds of settlement before disbursing any funds to you. Therefore, you could win your case, but receive very little for your claim depending on the total of medical bills you owe.
Should I Sign a Doctor’s Medical Lien?
Your attorney cannot make this decision for you. He can provide counsel regarding the pros and cons of a doctor’s medical lien, including your legal responsibilities regarding the lien. However, it is up to you whether to sign the lien. Sadly, many patients have no choice because they need medical treatment but cannot find a doctor to provide treatment without entering a medical lien.
In some cases, your attorney may be able to negotiate with your doctor to accept a lower amount to settle the lien, especially if your personal injury settlement did not cover all your medical expenses.
Do You Need More Information?
If you have been injured and you are unsure what to do next, our California car accident attorneys can help. We work with our clients to protect their rights to recover full compensation for all injuries. We also work with clients to negotiate medical liens to help them receive as much of their settlement as possible.
Contact Torem & Associates for a free consultation by calling (559) 500-5000 or 1-800-954-4444 or by using the contact form on our website.