It is important for plaintiffs to remember in personal injury actions in Virginia that certain types of liens may attach to any eventual settlement or verdict. What follows are a few examples: if a plaintiff has Medicare, Medicaid or health insurance, very often those entities will subrogate, that is, place a lien on any recovery. Federal liens have priority. Usually, the amounts demanded to be reimbursed are amounts smaller than a plaintiff’s actual medical bills. That is because the relationship between the healthcare provider and the insurance company is often such that the insurance company is only obligated to pay at a discounted rate. The fact that there is health insurance or some other form of payment of medical bills or recovery is usually not admissible in evidence at any trial and the amount that is important, for purposes of negotiation or trial is the full amount of the medical bills—not the amount the plaintiff actually paid, or the amount the health insurance or other entity paid.
Assignments and Other Liens
Other types of liens exist too. Some health care providers have patients sign an assignment or other instrument which provides if the patient recovers from a third party that the health care provider will be paid from those proceeds. If a lawyer knows about such an assignment or lien, s/he is obligated by the Rules of Professional Conduct to honor it. If a plaintiff is injured while on the job, the Workers Compensation insurance carrier will place a lien on any recovery against a third party if it has paid for a plaintiff’s benefits. It is important to see a lawyer about these and any other liens so that the amounts may be properly calculated and payment is ensured.
This is not an exhaustive list of liens that might be placed on a personal injury settlement or verdict, just some examples. If you have received money from any source for health care provided for treatment from your injuries, prior to, or during, the pending of your personal injury case, it is very important to tell your lawyer to ensure those are promptly paid. For more information about liens and personal injury claims, call a Northern Virginia personal injury lawyer at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. at (888) 887-4128.