Medical Expenses from an Accident: How They Can Reduce Your Personal Injury Recovery and What Your Attorney Can Do About It
An issue that many personal injury claimants are unaware of prior to a favorable conclusion of their personal injury claim through a settlement or a jury verdict are the effects that medical liens can have on the proceeds your personal injury settlement. In the fine print of most insurance policies is a clause that permits the insurer to seek reimbursement out of the proceeds of any successful lawsuit or settlement arising from an accident, medical malpractice or other circumstances in which a victim is injured by someone else’s negligence.
The amount of expenses that the insurer seeks reimbursement for is called a lien. The insurer can seek reimbursement through a process known as subrogation. Liens can end up reducing the ultimate recovery for the victim because they are paid out of the proceeds from a personal injury lawsuit. It therefore is a very important, but seldom discussed issue that any Florida personal injury claimant should thoroughly understand and make sure to address with his or her attorney prior to settling a case. Otherwise, the injured party could find themselves facing a nasty surprise at the end of the lawsuit when the funds are disbursed and they end up receiving less than they were expecting as a result of a lien.
Liens Can Reduce the Amount a Claimant Receives from a Settlement or Jury Verdict
Satisfaction of outstanding liens for medical expenses or other amounts paid by insurance can often be costly. As an example, if you are in a car accident and suffer serious injuries, you likely will need to seek treatment at a hospital or from a physician, chiropractor or other healthcare provider after your accident. Assume you incur $10,000 in medical bills and win a judgment for $50,000 after a trial. Under Florida law, the insurer can seek reimbursement of those amounts from any recovery you have which relates to that accident.
Another example in a different context would be if you suffer injuries as a result of a healthcare provider’s medical malpractice. As a result of your injuries, you seek costly medical treatment at a hospital, incurring $35,000 in medical bills. The entire amount is then paid by your health insurers. You subsequently sue the healthcare provider and the case settles for $200,000 at mediation. The insurer may seek recovery from those monies, which could end up reducing the total amount you receive from your settlement by $35,000.
Your Attorney Can Often Assist in Reducing the Amounts of Reducing or Even Eliminating the Outstanding Liens Associated with Your Personal Injury Claim
Don’t become despondent that you will not be compensated fully for your injury as a result of an outstanding lien for your past medical expenses. A lien is often negotiable. An aggressive attorney can assist in reducing the amount of the liens that your insurer may seek reimbursement for in the event of a settlement or jury verdict in your favor. Your attorney may even be able to convince the insurer to reduce the outstanding balance of you lien or, in some cases, to waive the lien entirely.
Rest assured that if you choose our firm to represent you in connection with your personal injury claim, we will bargain hard with your insurer(s) to reduce the amount of the liens for which they seek reimbursement. This ensures that our clients remove the maximum amount possible from any settlement or judgment in their favor.
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