Can a Lawyer Get a Reduction on Medical Bill?
Personal injury victims in California have the right to pursue compensation from an at-fault party. Ideally, this compensation will cover the cost of all related past and future medical bills with some compensation left over for other uses. Many people are surprised to find out that their bills are much larger than they realize or that whoever paid some of the bills may come back to recoup what they paid. Their right to collect is based on something called a lien and a lawyer can help by negotiating a lower payment toward those medical bills.
Your personal injury claim against an at-fault party is a tort – civil wrongdoing that may make that party liable for the costs you incur. But your relationship with medical providers and the medical providers’ relationship with insurance companies, workers’ compensation, Medicaid, or other payers is contractual. Managing these different relationships as they arise in your claim is complicated but working with a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer can greatly simplify the process.
What is a medical lien?
A medical lien is a right retained by a healthcare provider, an insurance company, or even a government entity that provides medical benefits to recover what is provided on your behalf. Here are some examples of how it works:
- You need emergency treatment but cannot pay for it. The doctor provides medical care without up-front payment. He has a lien on the cost of the services provided.
- You were hurt at work and workers’ compensation paid for your medical bills. The workers’ comp fund will have a lien on many of the expenses it paid on your behalf.
- You are injured in a car accident and even though the other driver was at fault, your insurance company paid part of your doctor’s bills under the medical payments coverage of your policy. The policy likely allows the company to seek reimbursement from you after you have been “made whole” by a settlement.
- When the government pays for your medical treatment, it retains the right to pursue reimbursement. This can apply to money paid by Medicare or Medicaid, the Veteran’s administrations, or another agency.
How a lienholder enforces a lien
Lienholders like insurance companies have what is called a right of subrogation. When they exercise this right, they “stand in the shoes” of the party they insured. So, for example, if the company seeks reimbursement from the at-fault party and that party has a valid defense he can assert against the injured person, he can also assert it against the insurance company.
The lienholder generally has two options: pursue the claim against the at-fault party directly or seek reimbursement from the injured party who benefited from the payments. When you reach a settlement or even a jury award, the lienholder can assert their right to a portion of those amounts. This does not always leave much for the injury victim.
Settling a claim with a lien in place
Medical providers, insurance companies, and other lienholders prefer to recover more money rather than less. However, litigation can take years. These parties are often willing to negotiate a lower amount in order to guarantee payment and to receive it sooner.
As the adage goes, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. In other words, there are incentives for lienholders to accept a lesser amount.
Experienced personal injury lawyers are invaluable in this process because those who focus on personal injury litigation understand the law. For example, many costs for which a lienholder claims a right to reimbursement cannot legally be recovered, like when some of the costs hidden in the medical bills are considered business expenses rather than treatment costs.
It is also important that your lawyer has a good working relationship with the lienholders. Since accepting a reduced amount on a lien is voluntary, your lawyer needs to help the lienholder understand why the reduction is in their best interest.
Fight for the greatest compensation for your injury
If you suffered a mild injury and have fully recovered, you may be able to settle your claim on your own provided you have fully accounted for all of your medical costs and treatment is complete. In other cases, it is a good idea to talk to a California lawyer about your case.
Skilled Los Angeles personal injury lawyers look at the big picture without forgetting the details. You have immediate needs but that does not stop lienholders from taking a cut of your compensation. Ellis Injury Law understands this situation and will fight to maximize the amount you receive. Call today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your Southern California personal injury.