Personal Injury Lawyer

After a personal injury, you may worry about how you are going to pay health care expenses. You may expect a settlement payment from the responsible party, but those negotiations often take time. If you have health insurance, you may consider letting your policy cover the cost. Your health insurance company can then file a lien against your settlement, which would then require you to reimburse it for medical expenses related to your accident.

What Is a Lien?

A lien is a legal claim to assets that you have or are expected to obtain. A lien by a health insurance company could work this way: You would file a claim with your insurance company asking for it to cover your health care expenses related to injuries that you received in an accident. Because you are pursuing legal action to recover damages for the injury from the responsible party, your health insurer would file a lien against your projected award.

If the court awards you damages or you negotiate a settlement, your health insurer could claim reimbursement for the medical expenses that it paid on your behalf out of that amount. On the other hand, if you received no settlement or damages, you would not have to reimburse your insurance company because the lien only affects damages from your case.

Is a Lien Bad?

Your settlement or award should compensate you for losses that you sustained because of your injury. This includes things such as lost wages and pain and suffering in addition to medical expenses. If you didn’t file a claim with your health insurance company initially, you would still pay the health care providers directly for the services they provided out of your damages amount. In other words, your net award would be the same after deducting the cost of medical expenses. It’s just a matter of whether you pay the providers or the insurance company.

Can You Avoid a Lien?

If you don’t want your health insurer to file a lien against your award or settlement, you can avoid it by not making an insurance claim in the first place. A lot of people prefer to file an insurance claim to avoid medical debt that can have a negative effect on credit. However, recent changes in the credit bureaus mean that medical debt no longer counts against you as severely as it used to. As a result, you could hold off paying medical bills with less consequence.

Ultimately, it is up to you to decide whether you want to file an insurance claim, knowing that it will probably incur a lien. Contact a law office to talk to a personal injury lawyer, like from Barry P. Goldberg about your legal options.