One of the most complicated portions of the personal injury claims process is determining what money you may owe to medical providers and if anyone has a lien on your personal injury settlement. A simple description of a lien is a right of a third party to possess something of yours until the payment of a debt that is owed.
In the personal injury claim context this most often comes up with a medical provider lien, which is a right created by statute for a medical provider to have a legal interest in the settlement proceeds from your personal injury claim and to receive reimbursement directly from the settlement.
A physician’s lien is created by statute, North Carolina General Statutes §§ 44-49 and 44-50 to be specific. This means that you don’t have to sign a specific document for a lien to exist. However, there are some specific requirements that a physician must follow.
First, the reimbursement demanded must be related to the treatment of the injury at issue in the personal injury claim.
The lien must be perfected by the medical provider. This has two requirements:
- The medical provider must provide copies of your records and bills free of charge
- They must assert the lien (this can be as simple as stamping “lien” on the records provided)
If the provider charges you or your personal injury attorney for the records or otherwise fails to perfect the lien then reimbursement is not required from the personal injury settlement. You might still owe the provider for the expenses, but it does not have to be paid out of your settlement.
There are other types of liens and interests that could impact your personal injury claim, those will be discussed in another blog post. These topics can be daunting, if you have questions regarding your personal injury claim you can call our personal injury attorney at 919-913-0706.