Securing compensation for your personal injury claim is vital to your recovery and future well-being.  Liens and subrogation interests are a complicated aspect of personal injury claims, and often affect the amount of the settlement or judgment recovered.  Your personal injury claim requires an attentive and diligent approach to determine whether there are any liens attached to your claim and how it could affect your recovery.

A lien or subrogation interest is the right of a third party to receive reimbursement directly from your settlement or judgment in a personal injury claim.  Following an accident, insurance companies, medical providers, or government programs may place a lien or subrogation interest on any settlement or judgement you obtain.  Those third parties are seeking repayment if someone else is found to be at fault.  Liens or subrogation interests are most often asserted by medical providers, Medicaid, Medicare, and health insurance plans.

Medical Providers – One of the most common types of liens is through a medical provider, often called a physician’s lien.  Any physician who provides medical services is entitled to reimbursement through a lien interest attached to any resulting settlement or judgment from a personal injury claim.  However, the reimbursement demanded must be related to the injury at issue in the claim, and the medical provider must have “perfected” their lien.  A medical provider can perfect their lien by providing all medical records and bills to your attorney free of charge, and by giving written notice of the lien to your attorney.  If the lien isn’t perfected, then no reimbursement is required.

Medicaid – Once an injured party accepts Medicaid coverage to pay for their injuries, a lien automatically attaches to any settlement or judgment resulting from a personal injury claim.  Potential Medicaid liens generally cannot exceed one-third of the total settlement or judgment amount.

Medicare – Similar to Medicaid, once an injured party accepts Medicare coverage to pay for their injuries, a lien automatically attaches to s settlement or judgments resulting from personal injury claims.  Medicare liens hold the highest priority and must be satisfied before any other interests.  If any potential Medicare lien exceeds half of the total settlement or judgement amount, then any all other liens may be destroyed.

Health Insurance – The other most common type of lien come from health insurance companies.  If a health insurance plan covers the cost of an injury that is someone else’s fault, they will often seek reimbursement through a lien.  In order for them to claim a lien interest, the health insurance policy must expressly state that the lien is allowed.  Typically, there must also be a statutory basis for asserting the lien.  Therefore, only certain health insurance policies can properly assert a lien.  Most privately funded insurance policies can not assert a lien, whereas Federal, state, or otherwise publicly-funded insurance policies usually can.  In some instances, health insurance liens cannot exceed half of the total settlement or judgement amount after the deduction of attorney’s fees.

Under North Carolina law, plaintiff attorneys are required to pay off any liens attached to their client’s personal injury settlement or judgement.  However, there are many strategies to mitigate and fight liens that may be attached to your personal injury claim.  The majority of lien amounts are negotiable, some lien amounts can be limited by court order, and some liens are automatically limited if you have a lawyer to assist in your underlying claim.

Identifying and settling liens is a crucial part of your personal injury claim.   At Miller Law Group, we have years of experience representing people throughout North Carolina in personal injury claims.  If you or a loved one is pursuing a personal injury claim and has any concerns regarding liens or subrogation interests, contact Miller Law Group for your free consultation.  You can also call us at 919-348-4361.