When you’re in the midst of a personal injury claim and receive an intimidating letter telling you that your medical provider or insurer has filed a lien on your case, you may have questions. With confusing terminology like “lien,” “subrogation,” and “wage garnishing” floating around out there, a quick Google search may leave you with even more questions: Am I in legal trouble? Will there be collection agencies knocking at my door? Where are you supposed to get the money to pay? Isn’t that why you have insurance in the first place – and oh, yes, isn’t this whole ordeal the fault of the other driver?
The good news is that having a lien filed is fairly common and does not pose a threat to you, the accident victim.
What “Lien” Really Means
Legally, a lien is defined as the “legal claim that someone or something has on the property of another person until a debt has been repaid.” That may sound like a scene from a movie, with debt collectors hauling off everything you hold dear – but don’t worry. This is not the reality of a modern-day lien. When someone files a lien on your case, they are simply “getting in line” to receive compensation from your settlement for services they provided you – whether that’s medical treatment or bill coverage.
Those liens will be fulfilled from your settlement amount, so you do not have to pay anything out of pocket for them.
If a personal injury lawyer handles your case, their firm will take care of paying those liens before you receive your final check. And a provider’s right to file a lien must be balanced with Arkansas’s “Made Whole” doctrine, which states that your right, as the victim, to be “made whole” is just as important as theirs.
Who Can File a Lien on My Case?
The short answer to that: insurance carriers and medical providers. Organizations that may file a lien on your settlement include healthcare providers (those who provide your treatment), your health insurance carrier, Medicare and Medicaid, and your car insurance carrier.
What’s the Law on Liens?
Arkansas Code 18-46-105 contains a great deal of specific information about the process of filing valid liens in Arkansas. A personal injury attorney can help explain this section of the Arkansas Code as it would apply to your case. Taylor King will glad to provide a free case consultation for you; call 1-800-227-9732 to speak with someone today.