It is a common dilemma: People who get hurt in car accidents might very well be entitled to compensation from the other driver, but their medical bills are due now. The pressure from hospitals to pay the bills can make car accident victims think that they have no other options. It often drives them to settle their personal injury lawsuit as quickly as possible, even if it means they only get a fraction of what they deserve.
Insurance companies representing defendants use this pressure to push victims into settling for very little.
Medical liens are an important way to avoid this difficult situation.
What Are Medical Liens?
We touched on the basics of medical liens in a recent blog post. At their core, medical liens are an agreement between an accident victim and their healthcare providers. Healthcare providers, including doctors, hospitals, and even physical therapists, provide the accident victim the care they need. In return, the accident victim agrees to pay them out of the compensation award they win in a personal injury case against the driver that caused the crash.
Medical liens allow healthcare professionals to get the payment they deserve for providing health care. They also allow innocent victims to continue to pursue their rights to compensation in court, without being pressured by the people they owe for their medical care.
Medical Liens in Missouri
In Missouri, medical liens are governed by Missouri Statutes 430.225 through 430.250.
For car accident victims, one of the most important provisions of these statutes dealing with medical liens is Missouri Statute 430.225(3). This statute puts a cap on how much of a victim’s settlement or compensation award can go towards medical liens. Only half of your “net proceeds” can be used to pay medical liens. Those “net proceeds” are the amount of your settlement or award, minus the costs of filing the lawsuit and your attorney’s fees.
For example, imagine needing $100,000 in medical care after a car crash and putting all of that medical expense in the form of medical liens. However, you ended up settling your case for only $175,000, with $25,000 of that going to attorney’s fees and court costs. Your “net proceeds” become $150,000. Under Missouri Statute 430.225(3), the healthcare providers can only touch half of that settlement, turning their $100,000 of care into $75,000 of payment.
By capping the lien amount based on the size of your settlement, Missouri law helps victims of car accidents by letting them seek the medical care they need without worrying about the value of their lawsuit.
However, the lien cap can make healthcare facilities charge more for care based on a medical lien. The cap makes a lien offer riskier.
St. Joseph Car Accident Lawyers at the Smith Law Office
Having a personal injury lawyer on hand early in your case can help you manage the confusing medical lien negotiations. Call the Smith Law Office at (816) 875-9373 or contact them online if you have been hurt in a car crash and want to make sure you get both the medical care and the compensation you need.