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How Do You Define Lien in a Personal Injury Case?

If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident, you need immediate medical attention. Even the cost of an ambulance ride to the hospital is prohibitive, averaging more than $1,200 without insurance, and often up to $1,000 even with insurance. Simply visiting the emergency room costs an average of $2,200, according to the insurance carrier United Healthcare. Doctor’s fees and medical supplies add considerably to that figure.

Now imagine how high the medical bills mount when someone has been in a serious accident and requires an extended hospital stay, surgery, and rehabilitation. Patients without insurance simply don’t have the money to pay those bills. And even those who do have medical insurance often find themselves unable to pay their out-of-pocket maximum or even their copays. Declining treatment isn’t an option in cases like these, so what happens?

Medical Liens In Personal Injury Cases

How does a hospital define lien? If it is apparent that a patient is filing a personal injury case against the at-fault driver who caused the accident, a hospital will often place a medical lien on that patient, with the anticipation of being paid after there is a settlement. A lien is a legal right for a third party to collect the debt that they are owed.

If you enter into a medical lien (also sometimes called hospital lien) with your healthcare provider, it simply means that you agree to pay what you owe when your case is settled. In the meantime, you will keep receiving the medical attention that you need and will only be forced to pay something once the personal injury case is either settled or when a judgment has been made in court and damages have been awarded. A medical lien is a type of subrogation claim. It is usually necessary for those without medical insurance and is sometimes necessary even for those who do have coverage.

Your Own Insurance Company Can File a Lien Against You

Another way to define lien is when your own insurance company pays for your medical bills while waiting for your case to be settled and for the at-fault driver’s insurance company to compensate you. Since your insurance company is paying the medical bills in the meantime, they are simply making sure that they will be reimbursed by placing a lien on your future compensation.

Attorney’s Lien

Personal injury attorneys can also place liens on your settlement. This means that they are not paid until your case is settled.

IC 33-43-4-1


Sec. 1. An attorney practicing law in a court of record in Indiana may hold a lien for the attorney’s fees on a judgment rendered in favor of a person employing the attorney to obtain the judgment.

As added by P.L.98-2004, SEC.22.

Medicaid Liens

Medicaid liens in personal injury cases occur when Medicaid believes they are entitled to a portion of any damages you receive after an accident. If Medicaid covered any expenses for treatment related to your personal injury, they may place a lien on your settlement to recover those funds. This is where the guidance of an experienced personal injury attorney comes into play. They can handle all of the paperwork and fight to make sure that you receive what you are owed after your injury.

How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help You With a Medical Lien?

  • Experienced personal injury attorneys can often negotiate with your insurance company and with medical professionals and hospitals to reduce the amount you are being charged.
  • They are also experienced at examining hospital bills to find mistakes or places where you have been overcharged or double billed. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon occurrence. According to a report by ABC news, bills that amounted to $10,000 or more had an average mistake costing $1,300. A professional needs to ensure that the lien placed on you is both accurate and fair.
  • The less money you are required to reimburse your medical providers or your insurance company, the more money you will be able to keep from your settlement or from the damages you are awarded.

Indiana Hospital Lien Statute

Once the hospital has exercised its lien against you and you have repaid the money you owe, the hospital has 15 days to drop the lien against you and will be fined for each day it is delinquent. The Indiana Hospital Lien Statute sets the daily fine amount at $25.

The Indiana Hospital Lien Statute, which was modified in 2013, made some other provisos designed to help Indiana citizens, such as:

  • Hospitals have 90 days after a patient is discharged in which to file a lien.
  • Hospitals may not attempt to collect debts while the personal injury case is still active.
  • If insurance agreements and write-offs cause the hospital bill to be reduced, the hospital is not allowed to then pursue the patient for the full price.
  • Once the hospital agrees to accept less than the full amount of the lien, they are not allowed to pursue the patient or anyone else for the balance.

If this all sounds complicated, it’s because it is. This is why it is imperative to have an experienced personal injury attorney in your corner – someone who is completely familiar with the law and who will help you navigate the process of dealing with your personal injury lien.

The Indianapolis car accident attorneys at Crossen Law Firm will always fight to get you the compensation you deserve, no matter how hard the insurance companies fight it.

Get started on your case today by scheduling a free consultation. Call 317-401-8626 or Contact Us online.