A victim’s medical bills are one of the main types of damages in a personal injury case in Texas. It often surprises people to discover that hospitals and health insurance companies can stake a claim for part of the financial award received in a personal injury case. This claim is a medical lien, and it is used to repay health care centers for a victim’s medical debts. Learn how a medical lien may affect your personal injury case, as well as how to handle this issue.
A medical lien is a legal claim to someone else’s property or assets as a means to recover the costs of medical bills. If you get injured in an accident, your medical expenses can be significant. The average victim cannot pay out of pocket to cover medical bills upfront. In this situation, the hospital or health insurance company may front the costs of treatments and seek reimbursement later. This is a process called subrogation, which gives the hospital or insurance company the right to seek reimbursement from your settlement.
Not all hospitals and health care providers in Texas allow patients to use medical liens. Since liens are essentially a type of credit for a patient to pay for health care later, only certain providers are willing to take on this risk. A provider that does accept medical liens will need assurance that the patient will pay the hospital back. For this reason, most medical providers only accept liens if they think the patient has a strong case against a defendant.
If you need a medical lien to help you pay for health care costs after a serious accident in Texas, find a doctor willing to accept this payment arrangement. The doctor or hospital will give you a lien agreement to sign. This is a legally binding contract saying that a portion of any award won for your personal injury claim will go to the doctor according to the terms of the agreement. Typically, the agreement stipulates that the doctor must receive payment before the patient receives a penny. It is important to consult with a lawyer before signing a medical lien agreement.
While a medical lien will not impact the basic personal injury claims process, it will affect how much you receive in financial compensation. With a medical lien in place, you will not own 100% of a settlement or judgment award given to you during a personal injury case in Texas. Instead, the owner of the lien will automatically receive a portion of your award. You will only get to keep what is left of the award after fulfilling the medical lien and paying off other debts, such as legal fees.
The strength of a medical lien against your claim will depend on the terms of the subrogation agreement. Medical liens are generally negotiable in Texas. However, most doctors are not interested in negotiating lien rights since they do not understand them and will need their lawyers to review them. The most effective way to negotiate with a doctor on a medical lien agreement is with assistance from an attorney.
A medical lien with the wrong terms could lead to a binding legal contract that hurts your rights and takes a large portion of the award you receive for your accident. Standard lien agreements favor the doctor, hospital or health insurance company, not the patient. Hiring a lawyer to review a medical lien agreement before you sign can make a significant impact on your future.
Your lawyer can benefit your case and protect your rights by working with the doctor to create lien terms that are fairer for you. Your lawyer may be able to discount your medical bills, for example, or work out an arrangement if you do not win your case. Hire a Dallas personal injury lawyer to help you with a medical lien in Texas for the best possible case outcome.