What are Medical Liens and How do they Affect a Massachusetts Personal Injury Case?
If you were injured in any sort of accident in which you filed an injury claim against another person or their insurance, and you received a settlement from the at fault party or their insurance company, your health insurance company has the right to be reimbursed for any medical bills it paid for that are related to your accident. This is called a right of subrogation or a right to a lien.
Simply speaking, a lien ensures that someone or something is compensated for goods or services provided.
What is a Medical Lien in Massachusetts?
A medical lien is a demand for repayment from your injury case for any medical bills your health insurance company paid that were related to an injury lawsuit. When injury claims are filed, injury attorneys always take into account the amount of medical bills you have incurred and may incur in the future to recover from your injuries.
Massachusetts’ law provides that a healthcare provider or insurance company can request a lien of the injured party, their attorney or their insurer. If a medical lien isn’t paid by the injured party, they could be sued by their health insurance company and possibly lose their right to health insurance coverage with that company in the future.
When you file an injury lawsuit in Massachusetts to recover the cost of medical bills, the insurance company or people who paid for your medical treatment have the right to file a medical lien against any settlement you get from your lawsuit.
This Sounds Unfair! You Pay Premiums, Why Should They Get A Lien?
At first glance, this concept of having to pay back your health insurance company sounds so unfair, especially since you paid premiums for that health insurance. But when the rationale behind the concept is considered more carefully it makes perfect sense. Your health insurer is obligated to pay your medical bills and will do so whether you are at fault for an accident or not. If you caused the accident your health insurer does not get a lien and you have no obligation to pay them back. If however you are not at fault AND you get money from the at fault party or their insurance company, then and only then do they get a lien and are entitled to repayment. Why is that? Well part of your damage claim is the cost of your medical care. When your lawyer either negotiates a settlement on your behalf or argues to a jury that you are entitled to money damages, they include the amount of your medical bills in their demand for settlement or a judgement in court. So you are demanding the at fault party to pay you for the cost of your medical care but you personally did not incur those costs, your health insurance company did. Other aspects of your damages claim are uniquely your damages, such as lost earnings and pain and suffering. They don’t get a lien on those components of damages. So to allow you to keep money allocated for medical expenses that you did not pay for would be to overcompensate you. So you see it is fair to allow the people (your health insurance company) who actually paid for the medical services to get their money back if someone else is ordered to pay for those expenses.
How Does a Medical Lien Work in Massachusetts?
Massachusetts state law states that “any hospital located in the commonwealth … which furnished medical or other services to any person injured in an accident … shall, subject to the provisions of section seventy B, have a lien for the reasonable and necessary charges of such hospital.”
A medical lien ensures that hospitals and healthcare providers are paid for medical attention and services rendered. They also ensure that a health insurance company does not have to pay for bills when it’s been determined that someone else was at fault and the injured person was awarded some form of settlement in order to pay their medical bills.
How Does a Medical Lien Affect a Massachusetts Injury Case?
Once a settlement is reached and accepted, hospitals, medical providers and health insurance companies can collect on the debts that you owed for the services performed.
Effectively, if a person is awarded a settlement after an injury, their medical bills will be deducted from the settlement amount. Injury lawyers can, however, negotiate medical liens. It depends on the case, but an injury attorney can usually negotiate a reduction of an injured party’s health insurance’s medical lien request so that the injured party recovers a greater settlement amount.
Sometimes, it is the case that a medical lien may be larger than the client’s settlement or judgement. In such cases it’s possible for your injury attorney to dramatically negotiate down the medical lien to an amount that allows an injured client to recover some of the settlement or judgement.
Experienced Massachusetts’ injury attorneys will attempt to negotiate your medical liens to try and minimize the lien amount and maximize your monetary recovery. A good attorney will work to ensure an injured person doesn’t have any financial hardship due to the medical liens.
Injured in an Accident in Massachusetts? Boston-based Injury Attorney Offers Free Consultations
Schedule your free consultation at our Chelsea Personal Injury law office today. Many people don’t realize this - but you don’t pay us a dime unless and until we recover money for you.
During the free consultation, our personal injury lawyers will look over your case and take the time to answer questions and let you know how we’d work with you to fight for your rights. We’ll explain exactly what you’re entitled to after an accident or injury.