What Impact Can a Healthcare Lien Have on My Ultimate Recovery in a Florida Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Those injured by someone else’s negligence often have little to no idea what a healthcare lien is when they first become involved in a motor vehicle accident, slip and fall or other personal injury scenario.  All a victim who has been injured by someone else’s negligence knows at the moment they are injured is that they are in pain, and likely need medical assistance quickly.  In such dire circumstances, the last thing on a person’s mind is what effect that getting the healthcare they desperately need to treat their injuries might have on their claim against that person in the future.

Even without health insurance to cover some of the expenses associated with injuries they had no part in causing,  the victim can go to a hospital and receive treatment.  However, the flip side to receiving medical treatment for an accident or other personal injury scenario and then seeking to recover for your injuries, pain and suffering, income losses and other damages from the party that injured you is that the health insurer that paid for your treatment or the hospital at which you received treatment often can come back and assert a healthcare lien (or a legally valid right) for the value of the healthcare services provided to you.  What this means is that, under Florida law and/or the terms of your health insurance policy, a hospital or health insurer normally is entitled to be reimbursed for the costs of the services needed by you that were a result of your injuries caused by the person you are suing.  This reduces your ultimate recovery from your personal injury lawsuit or claim.

An experienced, client-focused personal injury attorney like the experienced attorneys at Schwed, Adams & McGinley will negotiate the amount of any healthcare liens that exist associated with the treatment and care you may have had immediately after you suffered injuries as a result of someone else’s negligence.  We recognize that, to our clients, every penny counts, and we work tirelessly to reduce the amount that a health insurer or healthcare provider may accept in exchange for releasing its lien so that our clients truly walk away with the every penny and dollar they can.

What Is a Healthcare Lien?

A healthcare lien is a legally enforceable right that your health insurer or a healthcare provider has to seek reimbursement from you if you sue the person that caused you injuries and recover from either that person or their insurer, whether in a settlement or at trial.  Often buried in the back of your health insurance policy is a provision that allows your health insurer to seek reimbursement from you in the event that some of the healthcare you receive is caused by someone else’s negligence, and you eventually either file a claim with that person’s liability insurer or else file a personal injury lawsuit against that person and receive a settlement or prevail at trial.

Very rarely is someone actually aware their policy has such a provision until it comes time to settle the person’s personal injury lawsuit and then the issue raises its ugly head.  Rather than deal with healthcare liens themselves, many health insurers contract this out to third-party vendors who sometimes are paid a percentage of what they collect.  This can be both good and bad given that sometimes it makes the third-party vendor more likely to want to negotiate the amount of a lien.  Either way, however, the health insurer typically will not simply agree to waive its lien and will insist that it be paid something in return for your medical expenses that it paid for injuries caused by someone else’s negligence.

Some Florida counties also have laws or ordinance that allow hospitals who provide medical care or services to someone who has been injured in an accident and is uninsured to assert a lien against any settlement check that you may receive in a person injury claim against the person responsible for your injuries.  Therefore, if you are treated at a local hospital in one of the handful of counties that have such ordinances, and are uninsured but later recover from the person who injured you in a settlement, then the hospital would be able to assert its lien against the proceed of that settlement.

Regardless of whether it is a healthcare provider’s lien or a health insurer’s lien, one of the most important parts of your personal injury attorney’s job is ensuring all liens are paid off for as little as possible in connection with your personal injury claim.

What Effect Does a Healthcare Lien Have on My Ultimate Recovery in My Personal Injury Case?

Healthcare liens reduce the amount of money that you walk away with from a settlement or jury verdict.  For example, if you settle your personal injury case for $100,000 and your health insurer or a health care provider asserts a $40,000 lien against that settlement, then the amount you will recover is reduced by that $40,000. The healthcare lien must be paid off before the money from your settlement is distributed to you.  Therefore, you want any healthcare liens that a third party asserts against the proceeds of your personal injury claim to be as low as possible.  This is one more reason that you want to hire a personal injury attorney who will aggressively negotiate to reduce the healthcare liens to as low as possible.

Contact Schwed, Adams & McGinley

Some personal injury attorneys just pay off the outstanding healthcare liens their clients have without attempting to negotiate the value of those liens.  This is easier for the lawyer, who does not have to do the difficult work of negotiating with a health insurer or hospital to reduce its lien.  However, at Schwed, Adams & McGinley, our experienced Florida personal injury attorneys negotiate in each and every case with any health insurer(s) or healthcare provider(s) who may be asserting liens against the proceeds of our clients’ claims.  We understand that every dollar we convince a health insurer, its third party lien vendor, or a healthcare provider to knock off an outstanding lien is another dollar that our client gets in his or her pocket.  If you are interested in being represented by a firm that will fight for you to recover every penny you are entitled to under Florida law, contact the experienced Florida personal injury attorneys at Schwed, Adams & McGinley today at contact@schwedlawfirm.com or (877) 694-6079 for a free consultation today if you have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence in Florida.