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Does A Personal Injury Settlement Include Medical Bills?

Your personal injury settlement will include payment of your medical bills. Medical bills are often a challenging aspect of a personal injury settlement in North Carolina. The reason for this is that there are no rules automatically reducing medical billing in a personal injury settlement. As a result, your personal injury attorney must be familiar with the medical lien laws of North Carolina when settling your claim. Lastly, your Charlotte personal injury attorney may negotiate your medical bills for you as part of your personal injury settlement.

What Are North Carolina Medical Liens In Personal Injury?

If you are injured and receive treatment in North Carolina, the treating physician or facility can place a lien against any personal injury settlement you receive. The underlying theory is that if you were treated for the injury and receive money for the injury, you should have to pay your medical bills related to that injury.

There are some limitations on personal injury medical liens in North Carolina. Per N.C.G.S. 44-49 and 44-50, any provider of medical services is limited in the amount of lien they can claim, as follows:

Under Section 44-49, a lien is created provided that the provider does not charge for medical records and medical billing, and provided that written notice of the lien is given to the attorney.

Under Section 44-50, the liens in total are limited to one-half of the settlement, after subtracting attorney fees and costs. Generally, because attorney fees are usually one-third of the settlement, this means that the amount of your settlement that has to go to the lien holders is one-third of your settlement.

For example, assume your settlement is $12,000. Your attorney fee would be $4,000 (1/3). This leaves $8,000 remaining. The lien statute states that no more than one-half of the remainder shall be made to pay to liens. This means $4,000 must go to your lien holders, and the remaining $4,000 is yours.

What If Medical Bills Exceed The Lien Amount?

Your medical provider does not have to accept the pro-rata lien payment under 44-49 / 44-50 as the final settlement of the lien. They may bill you for the remainder. However, your Charlotte personal injury lawyer may be able to negotiate the medical bills in total for you, prior to accepting the settlement. In many cases, the lien holder will accept their pro-rata share as full and final settlement.

Speak With A Charlotte Personal Injury Lawyer Today

If you would like to speak with an attorney about your personal injury case, we’re here to help. The call is free and you will come away with a much better understanding of your options. You can reach us at 704.749.7747 or click to request a FREE CASE EVALUATION, and we will be in touch shortly.

Further Reading

If this article addressing “Does A Personal Injury Settlement Include Medical Bills?” was helpful, you may find other helpful articles on our Personal Injury Blog. Thank you for visiting the website—we hope it has been helpful.



Negotiating Personal Injury Liens

Charlotte personal injury lawyers spend more time negotiating personal injury liens than perhaps doing any other work related to the claim. The reason for this is that every dollar negotiated on behalf of the client puts more money in the client’s pocket. And that’s the goal.

Working With A Personal Injury Lawyer

Some clients try to settle their claim without a personal injury lawyer. While this can go smoothly in the most basic of personal injury claims, it can also end in a nightmare. The common misconception is that if you are able to get the same settlement offer a personal injury attorney would procure, then you don’t need to work with a personal injury lawyer. This couldn’t be further from the truth, and negotiating personal injury liens is just the start of it.

Medicare Liens

If you are a Medicare recipient, Medicare will most definitely have a lien against your personal injury proceeds. There is a formula which your personal injury attorney will make sure Medicare applies when determining what your personal injury lien is. Your attorney can also petition Medicare for a further reduction by claiming hardship due to disability or other condition which makes it unfair for you to have to repay the amount Medicare is entitled to. This is a tedious process, but the results can make all the difference in your personal injury settlement.

Medicaid Liens

Medicaid liens are similar to Medicare liens; however, a Medicaid lien is not limited to the same portion of your personal injury settlement that Medicare is limited to. As a result, it’s important to know what your Medicaid pro rata lien amount will be prior to agreeing to a settlement. This way, you know what you’re getting before you enter into a binding contract with the insurance company to settle the claim.

ERISA Health Insurance Liens

It comes as a surprise to personal injury clients that some healthcare plans are entitled to a reimbursement for amounts paid toward personal injury medical care. Most of us believe that the arrangement we have with our healthcare plans is that we pay the monthly premiums, and when we are hurt or need medical attention, the healthcare insurance company pays the bills—or most of the bills. There is an exception when it comes to treatment related to personal injury. This federally enforced contractual agreement is contained in your healthcare plan documents.

Your personal injury attorney will make a request of your healthcare insurance provider as to whether they have or claim an ERISA health insurance lien against settlement proceeds. If they do claim a lien, your attorney will make sure they are the type of health insurance plan that is entitled to claim such a lien. This requires determining, among other things, whether the plan is an ERISA plan and whether it is a self-funded plan.

Medical Provider Liens

Even medical providers—facilities and doctors—can claim a lien against your personal injury proceeds. They have to follow specific guidelines for doing so, but most providers are well-versed in the rules for establishing their lien against your personal injury settlement and you can count on them to follow the rules.

Negotiating Personal Injury Liens

The bottom line is that quite often the settlement offer being made from the at-fault party is not enough to either pay off all the claimed liens, or in the alternative, it’s not enough to pay you enough money after all lien holders have been paid. This is why negotiating your personal injury liens prior to reaching a settlement is key. This is when you have the most leverage. Once you agree to a settlement, the lien holders are entitled to their share of the personal injury settlement. Prior to settling, you have some leverage against them. For instance, you can propose a reduction to their lien, in exchange for agreeing to accept the personal injury settlement being offered by the insurance company.

In many cases, hospital providers and ERISA lien holders are willing to make practical concessions in order to insure they get paid something from the settlement proceeds. Quite often, they will acknowledge these payments as full and final payment of the amount owed on the account. While Medicare and Medicaid follow more strict guidelines for lien reductions, it’s important to ensure they are not claiming some part of your personal injury settlement to which they are not entitled.

Further Reading

If you want to get more questions answered, check out our Personal Injury Blog Articles.

Speak With A Personal Injury Lawyer Today

If you haven’t signed your release of all claims form yet, it’s not too late. You can still employ a personal injury attorney to protect you against the lien holders in your personal injury case. If you have questions about working with a personal injury lawyer, or if you have general questions about personal injury, call us today. You can call 704.749.7747 or click for a FREE CASE EVALUATION and we will contact you today. When it comes to choosing a personal injury law firm, we know you have options. We hope you choose to Recover With Us.

If you have ambulance bills resulting from a North Carolina personal injury claim, that bill will typically constitute a lien against settlement proceeds. This means that if you settle your personal injury claim, your ambulance bill will need to be paid before you receive any money from the settlement.

Generally, N.C.G.S. sec. 44-49, allows a person, corporation, state entity, county, or municipal corporation to claim a lien to the extent that entity provided medical services, drugs, medical supplies, or ambulatory services in connection with the injury for which the settlement has been reached. An ambulance bill qualifies as “Medical services”.

Is My Ambulance Bill Negotiable?

Most all bills are negotiable, and your personal injury lawyer should negotiate your bills on your behalf. Keep in mind though, that ambulance bills in personal injury are typically Mecklenburg County medical services bills. As such, your personal injury lawyer will be dealing with the City of Charlotte when attempting to negotiate the bill. In extreme circumstances, where the settlement does not exceed the total medical bills, the chance of negotiating the ambulance bill increases. Otherwise, the bill will most likely need to be paid in full.

What Other Types Of Bills Can I Expect?

If you’ve been injured, in an auto accident, or injured in a slip and fall on the premises of a business, you can expect some or all of the following types of bills:

Ambulance Bills

Emergency Room Bills

Hospital Bills

Physical Therapy Bills

Chiropractic Bills

Therapy Bills

If you would like to speak with an attorney about the bills you are receiving related to your personal injury, and get advice about how to proceed in negotiating a settlement with an insurance company, please call us at 704.749.7747, or contact us HERE and request a call. Phone consultations are free, and we hope you choose to Recover With Us.

Doctors bills are a common concern for our personal injury clients, and the concern especially arises when doctors bills exceed the settlement amount. If the doctors bills are paid, then essentially the client ends up with nothing or close to nothing. However, in an alternative arrangement, the attorney could disburse the settlement proceeds to the client, and the client’s doctors bills would follow the client after the settlement. While this may not be ideal, it does allow the client to make payments on the bills while keeping some money for themselves.

Aren’t Doctors Bills Liens Against Settlement Proceeds?

Some medical bills constitute liens against settlement proceeds. According to N.C.G.S. sec. 44-49, allows a person, corporation, state entity, county, or municipal corporation to claim a lien to the extent that entity provided medical services, drugs, medical supplies, or ambulatory services in connection with the injury for which the settlement has been reached.

While chiropractors are not specifically mentioned in the statute, it is generally understood that a chiropractor’s bill associated with treatment for the injury that gave rise to the settlement, constitutes a lien.

Does The Law Firm Negotiate Doctors Bills?

Yes. We will negotiate your medical bills for you. One way to maximize the benefit of your settlement is to have your personal injury lawyer negotiate your bills (medical bills, doctors bills, etc) as part of the settlement. Generally, we reach out to the medical providers, let them know the amount we are considering settling for, and encourage them to reduce their bill in order to make the settlement figure work for all parties.

Typically, as part of the reduction, the medical providers collectively will reduce their bills so that one third of the settlement proceeds goes to the attorney, one third to all the medical providers, and the remaining third goes to the client. So, by way of example, if you had a settlement of $90,000 but bills of $70,000, the personal injury lawyer would negotiate the bills down to $30,000. In the end, the client would end up with one third of the total settlement, and the negotiated bills would be deemed PAID IN FULL—the client wouldn’t owe anything to the medical providers after settlement.

If you have a question about a personal injury, a doctors bill, or would like to speak with an attorney about a personal injury, please call 704.749.7747. You can also request a consultation HERE. We hope you choose to Recover With Us.