Many times, we are contacted by clients or potential clients who have received letters from hospitals or insurance companies asserting a lien for care given or money paid. Most folks haven't dealt with liens before, so they want to know what effect this will have on them and their case. That all depends on the type of lien, and who the lienholder is.
A lien is the legal right or interest a creditor has in another person's property.
When you buy a car, the finance company has a lien on the car until it is payed off. This is why the finance company typically holds onto the title. When someone has been injured in any way, a car wreck, workplace injury, or offshore injury, many different types of liens can arise. The law treats some liens differently than others. It is important to know who holds the lien, and what the law is in order to determine what effect the lien may have on your case.
A hospital's ER lien:
One of the most common liens after a significant injury is the hospital's ER lien. Under Chapter 55 of the Texas Property Code, a hospital that provides emergency medical care to someone who has been injured in an accident within 72 hours of that accident has a lien upon the liability insurance of the negligent person or company that caused the accident. Unfortunately, many hospitals run this lien at hyper-inflated "self-pay" charge rates. This leads to problems when the insurance limits are low on the case, because these liens must be paid back.
The workers compensation insurance lien:
Another lien that is common in work injury cases is the workers compensation insurance lien. In Texas, when an employee is covered by his employer's workers compensation policy, he is automatically entitled to medical care and lost wage reimbursement when injured on the job. However, if his injury was the fault of the third party, he may file a negligence lawsuit against that third party. When this occurs, the employer's workers compensation insurance carrier has a lien upon the injured employee's recovery in the lawsuit. This lien is limited to the amount paid by the workers compensation carrier. Additionally, if the third party case goes to trial, the lien of the workers compensation carrier is reduced by any percentage of fault the jury apportions against the employer.
The child support lien:
One final common lien in a lawsuit is the child support lien. It is common for people to fall behind on child support obligations during an injury lawsuit, as they are often unable to work due to their injuries. When someone falls behind on their child support, the State Attorney General's office files a lien against that person's recovery in their lawsuit.
Managing these confusing liens during a lawsuit is complicated work. Often, these lien holders can be negotiated with during a case to accept a lesser amount rather than risk everything at trial. The best bet you have when trying to negotiate with these lienholders is having a personal injury lawyer who has done so in the past.
Because our Texas work accident attorneys handle so many cases where liens such as these come up, V&B Attorneys knows what to do in order to get our clients through this process with as little hassle and as large a recovery as possible.
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