As an auto accident attorney in the Atlanta area, I deal with medical liens on a regular basis. There are some important things you need to keep in mind if you’re considering foregoing treatment due to cost.
First, if you have been injured in auto accident, and do not have health insurance, there are many healthcare providers who are willing to treat you on what is known as a medical lien. This means that the doctor will have a lien against your settlement similar to when the bank has a lien against your car title. The doctor is then legally entitled to a share of your settlement. This arrangement is beneficial to everyone involved. The doctor is willing to forego payment now in the hope that you’ll recover for your injuries and you’re willing to forego some of your future settlement in order to receive the treatment you need right now.
In these cases, a thorough personal injury attorney will be in constant contact with your medical providers and will ensure they are paid after your case has been settled. Upon receipt of the settlement check (or judgment check) from the insurance company or responsible party, your attorney places the funds in a trust account. Then, your attorney begins a negotiation process with your providers in an attempt to maximize the portion of your settlement leftover for you. Not all doctors will accept less than the face value of their bills but an experienced accident attorney knows how to make the most of this negotiation process. Ultimately, just like the insurance company, most providers would prefer to forego the cost of litigating over the disputed bills and will accept less than their face value.
This process, unfortunately, can take weeks or even months to finalize. A thorough attorney will get your authorization and cut the check, directly from the funds in the trust account, to the medical provider for you once negotiations have been finalized. This extra step ensures that you have proper documentation that the bills are, in fact, settled in full.
Since negotiating medical bills can take time, there is a danger that the medical provider will report the outstanding bill to the credit reporting agencies. An experienced attorney knows how to notify your providers long in advance to avoid such reports. Finally, thorough auto accident attorney also knows to include language, in any settlement agreement with your providers, instructing them to forego reporting the debt to credit agencies and withdrawing the report if it’s already been issued. This whole process can result in you having more money in your pocket and your credit report being unblemished by the inconvenience of the accident and your costly treatment.
If you, or someone you know, have been hurt in an auto accident, you should consult with an experienced and knowledgeable attorney regarding your treatment. Please visit my website www.carnellfirm.com or call me at 770-729-4809.
- Jason Carnell