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What is a Medical Lien and How Does that Impact My Injury Settlement?

Posted on - Wednesday, January 6, 2016 under FAQ, Medical Malpractice

Of all of the challenges and worries faced by injury victims in the aftermath of a serious accident, mounting and astronomical medical bills are near the top. You wonder how you’re going to pay those bills, and the doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers who treated you wonder the same thing.

If you have filed a personal injury lawsuit and are seeking compensation from the person or company that caused you to incur those medical costs, those health care providers are going to expect to be paid from any amount you recover either through settlement or after a trial. To ensure that they get their cut of any damages recovered, they file what is known as a “medical lien.”

A “medical lien” attaches to the cause of action brought by a plaintiff in a personal injury suit and, if properly filed, entitles them to recover the fees and costs they incurred in treating the injuries that were caused by the defendant.

Specifically, Georgia’s medical lien statute (O.C.G.A. § 44-14-470 et seq.) provides that:

“Any person, firm, hospital authority, or corporation operating a hospital, nursing home, or physician practice or providing traumatic burn care medical practice in this state shall have a lien for the reasonable charges for hospital, nursing home, physician practice, or traumatic burn care medical practice care and treatment of an injured person, which lien shall be upon any and all causes of action accruing to the person to whom the care was furnished or to the legal representative of such person on account of injuries giving rise to the causes of action and which necessitated the hospital, nursing home, physician practice, or provider of traumatic burn care medical practice care…”

In order for a medical lien to attach to any damages recovered, the medical care provider must provide written notice of the lien to the patient and to the persons, entities, and insurers claimed by the patient to be liable for damages arising from the injuries. (O.C.G.A. § 44-14-471(a)(1)).

The provider claiming the medical lien must also file an affidavit with the Superior Court Clerk of the county in which the medical care provider is located and in the county where the patient resides providing details as to treatment, dates of admission, treatment, or discharge and the amount they claim is due. (O.C.G.A. § 44-14-471(a)(2)).

If the health care provider has done all of that in a timely manner, they will be entitled to be paid out of any settlement proceeds or judgment obtained by their former patient/plaintiff. This can be a huge amount of money taken out of your recovery. But a skilled personal injury lawyer may be able to attack the validity of some of the amounts that the hospital or health care providers claim are due, or they can challenge the validity of the medical lien itself.

At The Parian Law Firm in metro Atlanta, Georgia, we represent injury victims exclusively and are committed to getting justice and compensation for our clients. Please contact us at (770) 727-5550 or chat live online with a member of our staff today.