It is important for plaintiffs to remember in personal injury actions in
Virginia that certain types of liens may attach to any eventual settlement
or verdict. What follows are a few examples: if a plaintiff has Medicare,
Medicaid or health insurance, very often those entities will subrogate,
that is, place a lien on any recovery. Federal liens have priority. Usually,
the amounts demanded to be reimbursed are amounts smaller than a plaintiff's
actual medical bills. That is because the relationship between the healthcare
provider and the insurance company is often such that the insurance company
is only obligated to pay at a discounted rate. The fact that there is
health insurance or some other form of payment of medical bills or recovery
is usually not admissible in evidence at any trial and the amount that
is important, for purposes of negotiation or trial is the full amount
of the medical bills—not the amount the plaintiff actually paid,
or the amount the health insurance or other entity paid.
Assignments and Other Liens
Other types of liens exist too. Some health care providers have patients
sign an assignment or other instrument which provides if the patient recovers
from a third party that the health care provider will be paid from those
proceeds. If a lawyer knows about such an assignment or lien, s/he is
obligated by the Rules of Professional Conduct to honor it. If a plaintiff
is injured while on the job, the Workers Compensation insurance carrier
will place a lien on any recovery against a third party if it has paid
for a plaintiff's benefits.
It is important to see a lawyer about these and any other liens so that
the amounts may be properly calculated and payment is ensured.
This is not an exhaustive list of liens that might be placed on a personal
injury settlement or verdict, just some examples. If you have received
money from any source for health care provided for treatment from your
injuries, prior to, or during, the pending of your personal injury case,
it is very important to tell your lawyer to ensure those are promptly
paid. For more information about liens and personal injury claims, call
a Northern Virginia personal injury lawyer at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata
& Siegel, P.C. at (888) 887-4128.