With millions of motorists traveling California roads every day, accidents are bound to happen and people are bound to get hurt. Sadly, motor vehicle accidents happen so often, a Facebook page has been created to share news about these incidents. News reports posted there documented numerous collisions – including a nine-vehicle crash with several injuries – in the first week of December 2019 alone.
While all sorts of accidents generate media coverage, the victims and their families are usually left to cope with the aftermath on their own. If they’re lucky, their insurance will cover the costs associated with injuries in property damage. Or, if they prevail in a lawsuit against a negligent driver who caused the crash, they may receive compensation for resulting medical expenses.
But what ifyou don’t have health insurance, “no fault insurance,” or even a Med Pay auto policy? Or what if they have insurance, but simply can’t afford the deductible and/or co-pays? Or what if other factors make it impossible for them to pay for necessary medical care while a settlement, verdict, or judgment is pending?
That’s where “lien doctors,” or medical providers who are willing to work on medical liens, come in.
Keep reading to learn more.
What is a medical lien?
In California, a medical lien is a contractual agreement between the patient and the medical provider (doctor, hospital, clinic, etc.). If you were injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, it allows you to get the immediate and ongoing medical care you need – even if you can’t pay. In exchange for treating you, the medical provider reserves the right to collect payment directly from the settlement or judgment in your personal injury case. In other words, the medical provider is basically working on credit until the matter is resolved.
However, you should be aware that not all doctors are willing to do this. And in most cases, those who are will only do so if it’s the only way a patient can get the necessary care.
Because so few medical providers are willing to work on medical liens, finding someone to help you is a significant hurdle. Even if you do find a “lien doctor,” he or she might be reluctant to sign a lien agreement if you don’t seem to have a strong legal case. If you think about it, this is understandable because she or she is counting on being paid from the proceeds of your settlement or judgment.
Because they are unlikely to unlikely to have the same legal as medical expertise, however, medical providers aren’t necessarily adept at assessing the merits of your lawsuit.And that’s why it’s so important to have a good lawyer in your corner. At Law PLA, our personal injury attorneys are adept at working with medical providers to ensure they understand the chances of a successful outcome.
Hiring a lawyer who can negotiate your lien agreement
Something important to keep in mind is that a medical lien is a legally binding contract. Accordingly it usually grants the following rights to the medical provider:
- Top priority for receipt of payment following judgment or settlement of the case.
- The right to recover payment for treatment costs exceeding the amount of the settlement or judgment directly from the patient.
- The right to have an arbitrator resolve any relevant disputes.
As you can see, the language is standard lien agreements favors the doctor or provider. In some cases, these terms can put you (as the patient) at a significant disadvantage.
By having us negotiate or draft this agreement, you can be sure it will include terms that level the playing field. For example, if you don’t have an iron clad case, we may be able to convince the medical provider to accept lower payments if we lose the case, or a settlement or judgment doesn’t cover your medical expenses.
If the terms in a standard lien agreement are acceptable, or we reach a mutually acceptable agreement with the medical provider, you can sign the actual lien agreement. The medical provider will then notify the other party’s insurer to “perfect” the lien. Doing so authorizes that insurance provider to pay the doctor or other medical provider directly from any settlement or judgment before you – or we – get any money.
Once all of the paperwork is squared away, you can have piece of mind knowing you’ll get the medical care you need without having to worry about how to pay for it.
What happens if I s?
As we have noted, this depends on the terms in the lien agreement. As per the terms in standard lien agreements, you are liable for any medical costs not covered by your settlement or judgment. You are also liable for any such payments if you lose the case. This also means that the provider can recover the money owed in accordance with California law.
Otherwise, your obligations will be mandated by the terms in the lien agreement we negotiated with the medical provider on your behalf.
Our clients come first
At Law PLA, our clients always come first. If you or a loved one has been injured in a Los Angeles car accident or any other accident where someone else was at fault, don’t leave anything to chance. Contact us through our website at www.lawpla.comor call us at (213) 293-7881 to learn more about how we can help, today.
Please note that this article is not to be construed as forming an attorney-client relationship or as legal advice. If you want help, then call us to see how you can become a client. As with all of our personal injury cases, no fee up-front, and if we don’t win your case, then you don’t owe us for fees or costs, as long as you have been honest with us.