How Liens Can Impact Your Personal Injury Settlement

When a personal injury claim resolves, there are often outstanding medical bills—called liens—that need to be paid. These doctor and hospital liens can dramatically affect how much money gets taken out of your settlement. At Henson Fuerst, we’re here to help you understand how your settlement funds are being distributed, so you have the information you need to take control of your finances after your accident.

Medical Provider Liens

In a personal injury case, it’s common for liens to be held by medical providers that provided you treatment or services, such as:

  • Doctors
  • EMS ambulance services
  • Radiology and x-ray/MRI clinics
  • Hospitals

Valid vs. Non-Valid Liens

Under North Carolina General Statutes §44-49, §44-50, and §44-50.1, medical providers are allowed to recoup payment for services out of your settlement.

  • Valid Liens

    North Carolina law says that if a medical provider gives your lawyer copies of your medical records and bills free-of-charge, then they will have what is called a “valid lien” on your case. A “valid lien” means that those doctors and hospitals are entitled to recoup up to one-third of your settlement dollars to cover the unpaid medical bills.

  • Non-Valid Liens

    Some medical providers will not provide your lawyer with copies of your medical records without charging. In that case, the medical provider will have a “non-valid lien,” which means that they don’t have a right to force payment of your bills out of the settlement. That doesn’t mean that they give up the right to be paid—you still have to pay their bills. It means that they can’t legally force you and your lawyer to pay the bill out of the settlement.

In most cases, our North Carolina personal injury attorneys encourage clients to pay both valid and non-valid liens before the case is resolved. This way, you owe less money or no money when your case is settled.

Health Insurance Subrogation

In addition to medical provider liens, you also need to be aware of what are called subrogation interests—or claims for repayment that may be made by your health insurance company.

Your health insurance company collects premiums from you every year with the promise of paying for your medical bills if you get sick or injured. If your health insurance company makes a claim for repayment for medical bills that they paid on your behalf, it can dramatically affect the portion of settlement dollars you receive. It’s our job to protect your settlement.

State vs. Federal Laws

In North Carolina, the state and federal laws conflict.

  • North Carolina Law

    North Carolina’s state laws say that a health insurance company can’t make a claim for reimbursement out of your personal injury settlement. This means that if the health insurance company pays $1,000 on your hospital bill, the health insurance company has no right to get repaid for that amount when you settle your case.

  • Federal Law

    Federal law trumps state law, however, and these laws say that a health insurance company may collect repayment for your medical bills—with no cap on the amount—under certain specific circumstances. These laws are complicated, but an experienced North Carolina personal injury attorney from Henson Fuerst can help.

As your North Carolina personal injury lawyers, it’s our job to carefully analyze the details of your health insurance plan to see if your health insurance company has a right to repayment. Whether the insurance company has the right to repayment or not, Henson Fuerst will fight to help you keep every possible dollar. Many times, we can negotiate the repayment down to a fraction of the original claim, which means more money stays in your pocket.

Contact an Experienced Attorney To Fight For You

The North Carolina personal injury lawyers at Henson Fuerst will protect your best interests and legal rights. We’ll do our best to ensure you walk away with the maximum settlement possible. Call us today at (919) 781-1107 or complete a free initial consultation form.

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Raleigh Office

3110 Edwards Mill Rd # 100,
Raleigh, NC 27612
P (919) 781-1107
F (919) 781-8048

Rocky Mount Office

2317 Sunset Ave,
Rocky Mount, NC 27804
P (252) 443-2111
F (252) 443-9429
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