What is a medical lien? A medical lien allows a healthcare provider to recoup money owed for treatment by placing a request on the patient’s personal injury claim.
When someone is injured and files a personal injury claim, there may be high medical bills that are unpaid. In such cases, healthcare providers can place a medical lien on the injured person’s settlement. This gives them the right to be paid for their services from the proceeds of the settlement or verdict. Nevada has laws that allow for this, which can be helpful for people who don’t have insurance and need treatment for their injuries. They can receive treatment and defer payment until their case is settled.
What Is a Medical Lien?
A medical lien is a legal right that allows a healthcare provider to be paid for his or her services from the proceeds of a personal injury settlement or verdict. A medical lien allows a third party to take all or part of your settlement money to pay off the healthcare provider’s bills before you receive any of it.
This can happen when someone provides you with medical treatment without payment, such as treating your injuries after an accident. In such cases, healthcare providers may place a lien on any settlement or verdict you receive to ensure that they are compensated for their services.
Purpose of a Medical Lien in Personal Injury Claims
If you get injured in Nevada due to someone’s negligence or intentional act, you have the right to sue that person or his or her insurer for damages. This includes compensation for medical bills resulting from an accident or injury in Nevada.
However, a personal injury claim may take some time. The other party rarely admits fault immediately. Even if the party does admit fault, his or her insurer or lawyer often requires proof before paying your damages.
Meanwhile, you still require medical attention. You may be able to rely on your health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid insurance to cover the costs temporarily. However, if you don’t have any of these insurances, you may have to receive medical services on credit. This credit is secured by a lien on the proceeds you receive from a lawsuit or out-of-court settlement, which means that the doctor will have the right to be paid first before you receive any funds from the judgment or settlement. Under this type of arrangement, creditors garnish personal injury settlements.
Types of Medical Liens in Nevada
There are several types of medical liens:
Hospital liens are a legal mechanism that allows hospitals to claim a portion of any legal award that a patient receives for an accident, especially if the patient is uninsured. According to Nevada law, if a person receives hospitalization due to an injury and claims damages from the person responsible for causing the injury, the hospital has a lien on any sum awarded to the injured person by judgment or obtained by a settlement or compromise. This lien is limited to the reasonable value of the hospitalization before the date of judgment, settlement, or compromise.
In other words, hospital liens are attached to a personal injury claim, giving the hospital the right to claim the reasonable value of their treatment from any settlement or verdict recovered from the negligent party.
Nevada has fewer restrictions on hospital liens than other states. The state imposes only a couple of relevant limits on hospitals. First, hospitals can only recover the reasonable value of their services in Nevada. Second, if a patient is eligible for Medicare, Medicaid, or another similar program, hospitals are restricted to recovering only 55% of the charges billed.
When someone gets injured in an accident, such as a car crash, dog bite, or slip and fall, he or she may need medical treatment. However, if the person doesn’t have the money to pay for it, he or she may be unable to get the care required. In such cases, a physician may offer to provide treatment on a lien basis. A physician lien is where the doctor provides the necessary care with the understanding that he or she will be paid at a later time. The payment can come from the patient’s own pocket, the insurance of the at-fault party, or a personal injury settlement. By offering treatment on a lien basis, patients can receive the care they require, and physicians can be assured of payment in the future.
The Medicaid program is a need-based program that is jointly administered by the Federal and State governments. It is a state health insurance program that receives federal funding and is subject to federal law. In Nevada, the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services administers Medicaid.
If Medicaid pays for any medical care related to a personal injury claim or lawsuit, the State may seek reimbursement at the time of settlement. Each individual state decides what is reimbursable out of a personal injury award for Medicaid.
In Nevada, Medicaid has a lien against the right of the recipient (injured victim) for all medical costs paid by Medicaid.
Medicare is a federal program designed for individuals over the age of 65 and those with certain conditions or disabilities determined by Congress. Similar to health insurance companies, Medicare pays for the medical bills of eligible individuals and their families, regardless of whether they receive compensation from a personal injury case. However, like other government health programs, Medicare typically has provisions that allow it to place a lien on any recovery obtained in a case. The government may attach a lien on the beneficiary’s property to recover benefits paid on their behalf. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are responsible for tracking and enforcing these liens, and they are entitled to full reimbursement of medical benefits paid in cases where settlements have been awarded.
Strategies for Dealing With Medical Liens
It’s possible that the lien placed against your settlement after your accident may be equal to, or greater than, the amount of your settlement. In such cases, you may have the option to negotiate the lien and reduce or release the payment amount.
Negotiate With Lien Holders for Reduced Amounts
Contracts and liens are negotiable. Even before signing a lien, the terms of the contract can be negotiated to favor the victim. However, healthcare providers may avoid negotiations to avoid adjusting the lien offer. If people without health insurance knew what a medical lien is, they would likely find a healthcare provider that offers a more favorable agreement.
Contracts are not set in stone, so the terms can be altered even after the lien is signed, if both parties agree. This usually happens if a victim doesn’t receive an injury settlement as planned. Taking a patient to court would be time-consuming, and taking him or her to collections would likely yield less money, so the lien holder will be open to negotiations. The lien holder may agree to reduce the owed amount or, more commonly, agree to a payment plan that lets the victim pay over a specified timeframe.
Hire an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
Medical liens can be negotiated, which means you can come to an agreement with your healthcare provider that benefits both parties. You can negotiate the agreement before the case is settled, which can save you a lot of money in the long run.
However, negotiating the process alone may not be the best idea, as it can be highly technical. A personal injury attorney can make the difference between a tough legal situation and a manageable medical lien.
A lawyer who is knowledgeable about personal injury law can help you determine the validity of any asserted liens. Your lawyer may also negotiate with the lien holders to reduce the amount you owe, and make sure that your medical bills are paid so that you receive the maximum amount of compensation possible. There are many complexities involved when medical providers assert their right to recover all, or part of, the costs associated with your medical treatment.
For example, where liens are placed for medical payments coverage or health insurance payments, a “made whole” rule is usually applied. Under this rule, the victim of an injury must be fully compensated for medical expenses, legal costs, and pain and suffering damages before the insurance company can make a claim. Every lien is open to negotiation, and a lawyer can often negotiate reductions or waivers of these claims to ensure that you receive the maximum possible compensation. You may be unsure of how to find out if you have a medical lien, or want to know how long it takes to settle medical liens, or if personal injury settlements are taxable. Your personal injury attorney will be able to guide you through the processes.