Louisiana Auto Accidents: What is a Healthcare Lien?

December 18, 2020 Announcements and Law Updates

Louisiana Auto Accidents: What is a Healthcare Lien?

Victims of Louisiana auto accidents are entitled to make insurance claims and/or initiation litigation to recover money damages to compensate them for their injuries and property damage. When a vehicle crash is the cause of injuries, many hospitals, ambulance services, physicians, rehabilitation therapists, and other medical service providers know that they will not receive payment for those services immediately. This is because the victim of the accident is unlikely to have money on hand to pay the bills and most other types of insurance will not cover medical bills related to a vehicle wreck (at least, not at first). For example, most health insurance policies have exclusions where coverage is denied if there is an automobile insurance policy that will cover the medical bills and expenses.

In these situations, the medical service providers expect to receive payment when the victim settles the claim with the automobile insurance carrier or resolves the case through litigation. In other words, payment for the medical bills and expenses is expected from the settlement and/or the jury award. To ensure that they will be paid, medical service providers prepare and issue what are called “healthcare liens.” Under Louisiana law, healthcare liens are allowed and provided by section §9:4752 of Louisiana Revised Statutes.

The procedure is straightforward. The healthcare provider sends a notice — a written letter — to the victim’s attorney stating that the healthcare provider has a lien and stating the amount of the lien. In simple terms, a “lien” is legally something that gives a person or entity the right to be paid or seek recovery against whatever is attached to the lien. In Louisiana car accident cases, the lien “attaches” to any settlement or jury award. A familiar example of a lien is a mortgage that attaches to the house or property.

Healthcare liens are common in auto accident cases, but their existence does complicate matters when settlements are being negotiated. Any settlement negotiated must cover the liens and attorneys’ fees and still provide enough money remaining to compensate the victim for pain and suffering, lost wages, and other categories of allowable damages. Alternatively, sometimes through negotiations, healthcare providers will voluntarily reduce the number of their liens. This is one reason that it is important to retain experienced and proven Louisiana personal injury attorneys if you have been injured in an auto accident here in Louisiana. Experienced Louisiana auto accident attorneys know how to navigate the coverages, to deal with the insurance companies, to factor the liens into settlement negotiations and to potentially negotiate lien reductions.

As an example, imagine a horrific accident in which severe injuries occurred, resulting in multiple surgeries to correct and months of physical rehabilitation. Assume that the medical bills and expenses totaled $150,000 and proper healthcare liens are issued by the healthcare providers. Experienced Louisiana personal injury attorneys understand that such a case cannot settle for $225,000. After the liens and attorneys’ fees are paid, there would be nothing remaining to compensate the victim for other damages like pain and suffering.

Mansfield Melancon Attorneys can Help 

If you have been injured in a Louisiana automobile or other type of accident, contact the Louisiana personal injury attorneys at Mansfield, Melancon, Cranmer & Dick LLC. We have a proven track record of success handling many types of Louisiana personal injury cases, including, but not limited to, car accidents, boating accidents, motorcycle accidents, premises liability accidents, and cases involving nursing care facility abuse/neglect. Contact us by calling one of our offices: New Orleans at (504) 500-1108, Baton Rouge at (225) 612-0800, or Lafayette at (337) 409-0003. You can also request a free consultation by using our “Contact Us” page.