You probably don’t treat injured auto accident patients just for the money, but getting paid certainly is important. Increasingly, automobile insurance providers are making it difficult for medical care providers to get their bills paid. One way to ensure that you are among the doctors getting paid out of a trial court award or settlement is by filing a medical lien early.
There is no automatic “medical provider lien” that will ensure that doctors, hospitals, and therapists will get paid after a plaintiff receives a no-fault award. It doesn’t happen often, but it is possible that an injured party could take their settlement and leave you trying to collect their fees.
What is a Medical Lien?
Many medical practitioners have begun using consensual medical liens. This is a written agreement between your company and your patients. Patients agree to pay for your services out of any insurance benefits, award, or settlement they may receive, and agree that you can collect those fees directly from their attorneys.
You should have your patients sign a medical lien any time an auto insurance company may be picking up part of the bill. You can always release the lien later if the insurance company pays you directly or if you and your medical provider attorney decide to file your own lawsuit.
How Can You Enforce a Medical Lien?
It isn’t enough to just have your patients sign a medical lien form, though. To enforce their promise to pay you from their insurance proceeds you will need to give the plaintiff’s auto accident attorney notice that the lien exists. The easiest way to do this is to send a copy of the lien to the plaintiff’s attorney once you find out a lawsuit has begun.
Giving notice doesn’t guarantee you will get a dollar-for-dollar payment of your medical bill from the insurance settlement. If there are multiple medical liens on a case (such as one from the doctor, another from the hospital, and a third from a physical therapist), it is possible that the settlement won’t cover all the bills once the attorney fee has been paid.
The medical lien gives you the ability to get your fair share of the insurance proceeds, but that share might be a pro-rata percentage of the total award. It also entitles you to your share before other care providers (like the patient’s relatives) who do not have a lien filed, take theirs. If for some reason an attorney ignores your lien, you can file a motion with the court to make sure your bill is honored.
A medical lien is one tactic the medical provider attorneys at Christensen Law use to make sure their clients get paid. It can serve as an important safety net, should negotiations with the auto insurance companies fail. Don’t let that bill become an uncollectable account receivable. Protect your earnings by working with an experienced medical provider attorney to file and enforce medical liens to make sure you get paid.