Settlement Issues Part II: Liens and Complications
In our last discussion concerning settlement of car and truck crashes, we touched on six recurrent issues that reduce or imperil fair resolution of such cases. Succinctly, they are : preexisting injuries, delay in treatment, gaps in treatment, overtreatment, insufficiently supported lost wages and mimimal damage to the victim's car or truck. http://www.maryland-law.com/blog/maryland-car-crash-settlement-issues-part-i.cfm
In this edition we discuss a whole new range of issues that crop up regularly in motor vehicle accident cases in Maryland, D.C. and elsewhere. These issues generally involve claims that other people or entities attempt to attach to case verdicts or settlements. For the most part these claims or "liens" are created by three different means.
- Statute. Statutes are quite literally laws passed by governments at both local and national levels. The most prevalent statutory liens concern payments by the federal government pursuant to Medicaid and Medicare. These liens are unavoidable and if any of your accident-related bills were paid by Medicare or Medicaid, the goverment MUST be notified of your claim and settlement or verdict.
Contract or assigment of benefits. Contract means literally a contract or document signed by the injured party guaranteeing payment of their medical expenses. Many healthcare providers present prospective patients with a written document at the time of their first visit. Once this document is signed it is sent to the crash victim's attorney, who is then on notice that they must withhold funds from settlement or verdict, to pay the healthcare provider.
- Judgement. Judgement is exactly what the name implies. A healthcare provider sues the accident victim for non-payment of a bill and obtains a judgement. This judgement can then be recorded as a lien against property the injured party owns (With some exceptions) or against bank accounts or other assets.
Each of these liens or encumbrances can be dealt with by a skilled and experienced attorney. Many times the amounts paid to the lienholders is substantially less than the charges assessed but ensuring that this takes place is often complicated. If you have been injured in an accident contact us at (301) 317-1001 or reach us on the web at Maryland-Law.com and we will help you navigate troubled waters.