preparing yourself for an injury lawsuit

Who Can File A Lien Against My Personal Injury Settlement?

As personal injury suits become more common, multiple parties often try to cash in by establishing claims against personal injury settlements. Otherwise known as liens, these claims are court orders placed on your personal property to pay debts owed to a third party. The personal property in question can be your injury settlement, or the portion that the lien holder is claiming. In this article, you will learn who can file a claim for a portion of your settlement.

Who Can File a Lien Against my Injury Settlement?

  • Healthcare providers are among the most common lien holders in personal injury settlements. If you don't have health insurance, or if your insurer doesn't pay all of your medical bills, your doctor or hospital will try to recover losses through a settlement lien. However, if you're uninsured or covered through an HMO (health maintenance organization), you may not be able to repay the full amount. In a partial repayment, you and your personal injury attorney will negotiate with the provider to form a repayment plan.
  • Insurers often have the right to assert medical liens on personal injury settlements. Such rights are often embedded into health insurance plans offered by certain employers; legitimate liens typically include ERISA plans, worker's compensation and government employee plans.
  • Medicare and Medicaid require you to assign your third-party payment rights to the state. Even if you don't pursue a claim, your state has the legal right to do so. In a personal injury case where Medicaid has paid part or all of your medical bills, the state is required to seek compensation—which means that a lien will be filed against your settlement. Under the MSP (Medicare Secondary Payor) Act, Medicare shouldn't pay medical bills when payments are to be made through an employer's insurer; if payments are made, the Federal government can file a statutory lien for Medicare payments.
  • Coverage for medical expenses depends on whether you live in a no-fault state. With this type of coverage, your insurer pays at least a portion of your medical bills regardless of who causes an accident. Some no-fault states have limits on coverage; usually, that limit is up to $10,000.

Case laws and statutes are offering more rights to lien holders. If your personal injury settlement is substantial, there's likely to be at least one lien against it, and you should hire an attorney to protect your rights while educating you about the lien process. An attorney like James Lee Katz will consider lien repayment when negotiating for a specific settlement amount.