The word “lien” is simply a legal term that means that someone has a right to repayment for some service or debt.
An actual lien is a powerful legal tool, and most recognized liens today were either created by a statute, or already existed as a business or legal practice, and were turned into a statute to ensure they are followed correctly. That protects both businesses and regular people.
In personal injury claims, there are typically three types of liens that come up. Insurance companies typically don’t explain these liens except they may tell you the liens exist. They do this to pressure you into settling your case for less money.
First, a mechanic’s lien may be asserted against your car if the property damage isn’t paid for. This is one reason it’s usually best to let the body shop deal with you AND the insurance company, and to have the insurance company pay the body shop directly: that way if there’s a problem, it’s typically not your fault, and the insurance company has to fix it. If the repair bill isn’t paid, or if the storage and towing fees aren’t paid (this comes up most often when the vehicle is totaled and you’re negotiating over the value) then the lien can continue to run, and suddenly a couple hundred dollars’ worth of storage fees can turn into thousands.
Second, healthcare liens appear in nearly every case we handle. Sometimes, these are liens from providers (hospitals, doctors, etc) and sometimes the lien belongs to the client’s health insurance plan. Medicare, Medicaid, and nearly all other public plans have very strong liens which can create enormous problems if they are not handled correctly. Most of those plans also have protections and credits that exist ONLY if you hire a lawyer. Private health insurance plans through your employer may also have rights to recover from your settlement or jury verdict, but those are typically not really liens, but are contractual rights.
Third, child support liens are another frequent issue in personal injury claims. If you owe child support, the fact that your injuries keep you out of work does NOT affect your obligation to pay that support. Only a court order can affect that. Child support liens are also very powerful legal rights, and if not handled correctly, can cause you enormous problems.
This is just a quick summary, and there is no way to fully explain all of this in one quick article like this. If you’ve been injured by someone else’s negligence, whether in a car accident, nursing home incident, animal attack, truck collision, or otherwise, contact us today by clicking here, or by calling us at 919-348-4361. The consultation is free, and we will only take your case if think we can help you do better with us than without us.