Illinois Healthcare liens arise in nearly every Illinois personal injury case. If you are injured in an automobile or other accident and the injury was caused by someone else (a third party), it is critical to know whether a “lien” was served/mailed to you. If it was, there may be a legal obligation to pay the lienholder back out of the proceeds of your
settlement/recovery. If you’ve been served with a lien, call us for a free consultation at 312-848-9783.
What is a Lien?
In the context of an Illinois personal injury case, a “lien” refers to the right a healthcare provider has to obtain reimbursement out of your settlement/recovery for the medical services they provided you for your injuries.
This issue is specifically addressed in the Illinois Health Care Services Lien Act. The Act determines in detail how much the lienholder can recover, the requirements to establish a valid lien, and what to do if the settlement/recovery is insufficient to pay the lien.
You are injured in an auto accident and are taken by ambulance to the emergency room. You are diagnosed with a fractured arm which is casted. After you return home, you receive notification that there are three liens totaling $50,000.00. The automobile insurance company for the defendant offers you $100,000.00 to settle your case and you accept. What happens now?
You and your Northbrook car accident lawyer have a legal obligation to pay the hospital liens back. But how much do you have to pay back? Per the Lien Act there are two types of health care services providers:
- Healthcare professionals: Doctors, etc.
- Healthcare providers: Hospitals, etc.
Per the statute, all healthcare liens (liens, not bills) cannot amount to more than forty percent (40%) of your total recovery. As such, in our scenario, before you get paid, you are required to pay $40,000.00 to the lien holders.
That does not mean that you are relieved from paying the additional $10,000.00 that you you’re your healthcare providers can still come after you for the remaining $10,000.00. However, payment of the forty percent means that you are not prevented from settling your case and distributing the proceeds of the settlement.
This is where having an experienced Northbrook lawyer is important. In most cases, we can negotiate with your Illinois healthcare lien with your medical providers to resolve the entire balance owed. If not, the Lien Act provides the means for obtaining Court adjudication of the rights of the parties.
For a lien to be valid and enforceable, there are certain requirements that must be met, including:
- The lien must include a written notice containing the name and address of the injured person, the date of the injury, the name and address of the health care professional or health care provider, and the name of the party alleged to be liable to make compensation to the injured person for the injuries received.
- The lien must be served on both the injured person and the party against whom the claim or right of action exists.
- The letter/lien must be sent by registered or certified mail or delivered in person.
Paying Illinois healthcare liens and medical bills are a large part of what our office does for our clients. Once a case settles, we will call your medical providers and confirm whether there are any outstanding balances owed for medical bills and/or liens. We will then attempt to negotiate the bills and liens down as low possible. Money negotiated goes directly into your pocket so it is in your best interest to patiently await negotiation of your bills.
We’ve had success negotiating with most medical providers. Some are notoriously difficult to work with such as ambulance companies who rarely reduce their bills.
Note that negotiating liens and medical bills is different than negotiating with your health insurance company, Medicaid or Medicare. They also expect to be paid back out of the proceeds of your settlement. This is also addressed by the Healthcare Services Lien Act but is a discussion for another article.
If you would like a free consultation with a Northbrook lawyer to discuss your Illinois healthcare liens, contact us today at 312-848-9783.