Colorado Law Allows Liens, in Specific Circumstances
If you seek medical care after an accident, you might be surprised to learn that healthcare providers might make a claim against your personal injury settlement so that they can be paid directly from your settlement, not from your insurance company or you personally. This type of claim is known as a medical lien.
What is a Medical Lien?
A medical lien is a demand for repayment that may be claimed against your Colorado personal injury case by a health care provider, doctor, or hospital. A medical lien exerts a medical provider’s right to payment, but it does not guarantee that payment will be made since there is no absolute guarantee of an award in a personal injury case.
Lien holders must advise you of their intent to claim a lien against your settlement, and medical providers may ask you to sign a lien letter verifying that a lien has been asserted against your potential personal injury settlement. Before you sign, you should have your attorney review all lien information, because medical liens must follow strict protocol to be considered valid.
Colorado Law Regarding Medical Liens
In Colorado, medical care providers can perfect (or validate) a lien by either:
- Having patients sign a letter of protection or lien before treatment is given.
- Exerting their lien rights under state law.
Sometimes healthcare providers ask you to sign a letter of protection or a lien and also elect to assert their rights under state law, even if you don’t sign. Under Colorado law, a hospital is legally allowed to assert a medical lien to the patient’s insurance company for all reasonable and necessary charges for care or services, in the same manner as the hospital provides for patients whose injuries are not the result of negligence or the wrongful conduct of another person.
If the patient is uninsured and no payers of benefits can be identified, a medical lien may be created. But if a hospital is notified that the patient has medical insurance (or a payer of benefits) after a lien is created, then the hospital is required to make good-faith attempts to submit its bills to the identified insurance company.
For a medical lien to be considered valid in the state, a hospital must satisfy the submission, filing, and notice requirements described in Colorado law. If a hospital lien is in violation of state law, the injured person can sue the hospital for up to two times the amount of the lien asserted.
How an Experienced Colorado Attorney Can Help
Medical liens are often complicated, and it can be difficult to negotiate a fair settlement when medical providers and hospitals have asserted them, but a knowledgeable personal injury attorney will help ensure that:
- Improper billing has not occurred.
- All payments are accounted for, and any balances are accurate.
- Lien claimants are kept in the loop, empowering them to negotiate to reduce the lien.
- All liens are satisfied before you receive your settlement, so you won’t have to worry about paying them off later.
For legal representation in a personal injury case and solid advice on whether to sign a medical lien, contact Colorado Attorney Daniel R. Rosen today.