When you or a loved one is involved in a crash, one of the first things you will do is seek medical treatment for your injuries. Unfortunately, many times when the dust settles and your settlement is approved, your medical providers will come after a portion of it.
The best way to protect your personal injury settlement from these medical liens is to work with an experienced personal injury attorney. Brady M. Larrison at Larrison Law Firm Auto Accident and Personal Injury Attorneys can help. Contact our Athens personal injury attorneys to learn more about how we can help you get more of your settlement in your pocket.
What Is Georgia’s Hospital Lien Statute?
Georgia’s hospital lien statute, codified as O.C.G.A. § 44-14-470, allows hospitals to file a lien against a personal injury settlement.
Georgia law requires that hospitals validate the lien by providing the patient with notice and filing a lien with the court within a specific period of time.
Typically, hospitals comply since they are experienced in filing medical liens on settlements.
Unfortunately, there are some hospitals that will use this statute to take advantage of injured victims. However, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you fight back if this happens to you or your loved one.
Who Can Create Medical Liens?
According to Georgia’s medical lien statute, OCGA 44-14-470-476, a medical lien can be rendered by any person, firm or entity providing medical treatment, including:
- Nursing home
- Intensive care clinic
- Doctor’s office
- Licensed physician
The lien is not filed against the victim, but the personal injury settlement to recover expenses incurred to provide care/treatment following the injury.
When Does a Lien “Attach” and What Does That Mean?
A lien “attaches” to the personal injury settlement when treatment begins and can be filed 75 days after discharge or 90 days after the patient seeks care.
How Can Liens Become a Problem for a Personal Injury Victim in Regard to Their Settlement?
A Medical lien on settlement proceeds can significantly reduce the amount the injured party ultimately receives from the settlement, and if not handled properly, can lead to complications and disputes.
Often, medical providers will charge higher rates for patients who are uninsured or underinsured, especially if they are aware that there is a potential settlement involved. There are several reasons for this, including:
Hospitals may charge higher rates to uninsured or underinsured individuals to offset the costs of providing care to patients who cannot pay. When uninsured individuals cannot cover their medical expenses, hospitals may raise prices for those who can pay, such as those with insurance, to compensate for the financial gap.
Lack of negotiation power
Insured individuals often benefit from negotiated rates between hospitals and insurance companies. These negotiated rates typically result in lower costs for insured patients. Uninsured individuals, lacking the bargaining power of insurance companies, may be charged full, undiscounted rates.
Hospitals face financial risks when providing care to uninsured or underinsured individuals because they may not receive full payment for their services. To mitigate this risk, they may set higher initial prices for those who don’t have insurance coverage.
Covering uncompensated care costs
Hospitals have to account for the costs of providing care to individuals who cannot pay, leading to uncompensated care. Charging higher rates to those who can pay helps cover these unrecovered costs.
Hospitals often engage in cross-subsidization, where revenue generated from certain services or patient groups is used to subsidize losses incurred in others. Charging higher rates to the uninsured or underinsured may be part of this strategy to maintain financial viability.
It’s important to note that the healthcare system and its pricing structures can be complex, and the reasons for high charges to the uninsured or underinsured may vary across different healthcare providers and systems.
Policy debates and discussions often revolve around addressing these issues, improving healthcare access, and finding ways to make healthcare more affordable and equitable.
The best way to navigate these issues and protect your personal injury settlement is to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney such as Brady M. Larrison.
Can Unreasonable Liens Be Attacked or Defeated?
Yes, it is possible to attack and defeat an unreasonable lien on your personal injury settlement. An experienced personal injury attorney, such as Brady M. Larrison of Larrison Law Firm Auto Accident and Personal Injury Attorneys, can help.
First of all, he will carefully inspect the lien. If the medical provider has not complied with the law, an attorney can strike it down.
Since hospital or emergency room bills are typically significantly inflated, he will check to ensure that your bill is reasonable. He will verify if you were charged for triage treatment or diagnostic testing, as well as whether the charges match your injuries.
In some cases, an attorney will contact your lien holder to attempt to get the lienholder to agree to a lesser amount.
Let Our Firm Protect Your Personal Injury Settlement From Unreasonable Liens
If you are involved in a crash, you should be able to seek treatment without worrying about how you will pay for it. Additionally, you should be charged fairly for these services and not worry that the fees will be higher because of the lawsuit.
Brady M. Larrison at Larrison Law Firm Auto Accident and Personal Injury Attorneys can help you protect your personal injury settlement so that you get more money in your hands. Our familiarity with hospital lien practices can ensure that the medical bills you receive are fair and, if a lien is filed, we will make sure that it complies with Georgia’s hospital lien statute.
Mr. Larrison has more than a decade of experience representing accident victims in and around Athens. Contact Larrison at 770-626-7895 or online to schedule your no-obligation case review with him today.