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Personal injury liens and subrogation interests

Securing compensation for your personal injury claim is vital to your recovery and future well-being.  Liens and subrogation interests represent a complicated aspect of personal injury claims that often affect the amount of the settlement or judgement recovered.  Your personal injury claim requires an attentive and diligent approach to determine whether there are any liens attached to your claim and how it could affect your recovery.


A lien or subrogation interest is the right of a third party to receive reimbursement directly from your settlement or judgement of a personal injury claim.  Following an accident, insurance companies, medical providers, or government programs may place a lien or subrogation interest on any settlement or judgement resulting from a personal injury claim.  The third party is essentially seeking their money back if someone else is found to be at fault.  Liens or subrogation interests are seen most commonly through medical providers, Medicaid, Medicare, and health insurance companies.


Medical Providers - One of the most common types of liens is through a medical provider, often called a physician lien.  Any physician who provides medical services is entitled to reimbursement through a lien interest attached to any resulting settlement or judgement from a personal injury claim.  However, the reimbursement demanded must be related to the injury at issue in the claim, and the medical provider must have "perfected" their lien.  A medical provider can perfect their lien by providing all medical records and bills to the plaintiff's attorney free of charge, and by giving written notice of the lien to the plaintiff's attorney.  If the lien has not been perfected, then no reimbursement is required.


Medicaid - Once an injured party accepts Medicaid coverage to pay for their injuries, a lien interest is automatically attached to any settlement or judgement resulting from a personal injury claim.  Any potential Medicaid lien cannot exceed one-third of the total settlement or judgement amount.


Medicare - Similar to Medicaid, once an injured party accepts Medicare coverage to pay for their injuries, a lien interest is automatically attached to any settlement or judgement resulting from a personal injury claim.  Medicare liens are considered priority and must be satisfied before any other interests.  If any potential Medicare lien exceeds half of the total settlement or judgement amount, then any all other lien interests attached are destroyed.


Health Insurance - The other most common type of lien is that held by an insurance company.  If a health insurance company covers the cost of an injury that is later found to be the fault of someone else, they will often seek reimbursement through a lien interest.  In order for them to claim a lien interest, it must be expressly stated in the insurance policy.  In addition, only certain health insurance policies can have a lien interest attached.  Most privately funded insurance policies are not subject to lien interests, whereas any state employees or publicly funded insurance policies usually are.  Health insurance liens cannot exceed half of the total settlement or judgement amount after the deduction of attorney's fees.


Under North Carolina law, plaintiff attorneys are required to pay off any liens attached to their client's personal injury settlement or judgement.  However, there are many strategies to mitigate and fight any liens that may be attached to your personal injury claim.  The majority of lien amounts are negotiable and some lien amounts can be limited by court order. 


Identifying and settling any lien interest is a vital part of your personal injury claim.   At Miller Law Firm, we have years of experience representing people throughout North Carolina in personal injury claims.  If you or a loved one is pursuing a personal injury claim and has any concerns regarding liens or subrogation interests, contact Miller Law Firm for your free consultation.

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