What is a Medical Lien in a Personal Injury Case?

After an unexpected injury and subsequent personal injury award, you might be surprised that in certain situations, healthcare providers and medical professionals could have a claim against your settlement. One reason people file personal injury claims is to be compensated for medical expenses incurred because of their injuries. The healthcare professionals who provided treatment could file a lien against your settlement proceeds to ensure they are paid for their services.

In some cases, your health insurance provider could also file a lien to recover the funds spent on your medical treatment. Known as subrogation, it is the process by which insurance companies are permitted to seek repayment through your injury settlement. The strength and extent of your insurance company’s rights depend on the language contained in your health insurance policy.

Medical liens are part of the personal injury process. At GKD Law, our experienced Fayetteville personal injury attorneys will work to ensure your compensation covers the costs for your medical treatment, physical therapy, and any other healthcare services you might require. Contact our law offices at (479) 316-0438.

Medical and Hospital Liens

Lien is a legal term describing a party’s legal claim on another’s property until the debt is paid. For example, your mortgage company has a lien on your home. If you fall behind on your mortgage payments, your lender could legally take possession of the property. However, medical liens rarely carry that type of strength. You could think of a lien filed as someone getting in line to get paid. Whoever filed first will have the first crack at your possessions. When you receive a settlement in a personal injury lawsuit, there might be several parties waiting to be paid. Your attorney’s fees will likely be paid through the settlement, as well as any experts that testified on your behalf. Your medical expenses will also be paid through the settlement proceeds. To ensure that they are paid, the medical professionals that rendered services and treatment will file a lien against your settlement award.

In many cases, a healthcare professional will provide services with the understanding that they will be paid through an insurance settlement or jury award. Because of this relationship, an accident victim’s out-of-pocket expenses will be limited.

Our Springdale personal injury attorneys will pay any outstanding liens before you receive your final settlement check. Therefore, you will not be required to make any payments yourself. Arkansas follows a “Made Whole” doctrine. Under this doctrine, an injured victim should be made whole after an accident. A medical professionals’ right to collect on a lien will be balanced between their rights and your ability to be made whole.

Medical, Nursing, Hospital, and Ambulance Service Lien Act

Arkansas law governs what parties are permitted to file medical liens and the steps they must take. Typically, a medical lien could be filed by a nurse, practitioner, hospital, or ambulance service. A written notice must be served on the patient, tortfeasor (the party that caused the injury), or the insurer and filed with the office of the county clerk of the circuit court where the medical service or treatment was rendered.

Under Arkansas law, the notice must include specific requirements. First, it should have the name and address of the tortfeasor. If an insurance company is part of the proceedings, the notice also must include its name and address. Second, the notice will list the patient’s name along with their usual address. Furthermore, it will include the name and address of the party claiming the lien, either a nurse, practitioner, hospital, or ambulance service.

In addition to the parties’ information, the notice will list the time, date, place, and circumstances surrounding the incident and the alleged fault. A detailed description of the injury and treatment or services is also required.

Finally, the notice will list the cost of the medical treatment or services rendered. If the services have not been completed before the lien has been filed, a supplementary notice must be served within sixty days of the termination of service.

The notice must be served by personal service and left with an adult individual at their usual residence or place of employment. It could also be sent by registered mail to the last verified or known address of the person being notified. In some cases, a medical lien is not satisfied. When this happens, the provider must file a suit before 180 days have passed or the lien will become invalid.

The Necessity of Medical Liens

It is best to think of a medical lien as an agreement between you and your healthcare providers. These legal devices allow you to defer payment of medical costs until after you received a settlement from a court judgment or insurance company. If you are injured and not working, deferring payments could be the only way you can afford the treatment you need. Once your treatment or services are complete, the lien serves as a legal guarantee that the services rendered will be compensated. Our Arkansas personal injury attorneys will handle the payment – you will receive a settlement check once the payments have been disbursed.

Contact Our Arkansas Personal Injury Lawyers

There are many facets of an injury claim or insurance settlement. One question many accident victims have is, “how will I pay for my medical costs?” In many cases, a healthcare professional will provide services knowing that they will be paid out of the settlement proceeds. To ensure they are paid, they are permitted to file a medical lien. If you have any questions regarding a personal injury case or a medical lien, contact our Rogers personal injury lawyers at (479) 316-0438.