If you have been injured in an accident, you are probably worried about how you will pay for expensive medical treatments especially if you are not covered by health insurance and are unable to work due to the accident. California has one of the highest rates of personal injury cases in the United States; therefore, many of the doctors in California have agreed to treat personal injury patients under what is referred to as a “Doctor's Lien.” The lien allows the patient to receive much-needed treatment, following an accident while also protecting the physician providing the care.
What is a Doctor's Lien?
Because not everyone can afford a physician and not everyone has medical insurance, it may be difficult for some individuals to seek treatment following an accident. While the party at fault may be responsible for payment of the injured party's medical costs, settlement could be months or even years away, leaving the individual with no means with which to seek treatment for his or her injuries.
A doctor's lien is a way to take care of the problem. Physicians agree to treat a patient immediately and wait to be paid until the case has been settled or won. The patient, and, in most cases, his or her attorney, signs the agreement agreeing that all medical bills will be paid from the proceeds of settlement prior to the individual receiving any funds.
The agreement is a legally binding contract between the doctor and the patient and the attorney who are obligated to abide by the terms of the agreement. In other words, when your case settles or ends with a jury verdict, your attorney must first pay your doctor's bills prior to releasing any of the funds to you.
Treatment on a lien can be an effective way to get the care that you need without worrying about providers turning accounts over to collection companies and harming your credit while your attorney is working to settle your accident claim. Many physicians who agree to treatment in this way also agree to perform expensive but necessary diagnostic tests and surgeries.
Will a Lien Cause Me to Lose Money?
Doctors on lien should not charge any more for their services than they do for patients who are paying for costs as they are treated or who have health insurance. Once your personal injury attorney settles your claim or you receive a monetary judgment through a jury trial, your attorney will prepare a final settlement statement detailing how the proceeds of settlement are to be disbursed.
After attorney's fees and costs, your medical bills will be paid in full, and, then, you should receive the balance of the proceeds. While some physicians will negotiate the amount to be paid from settlement, they are under no legal obligation to accept less than they are owed for service rendered.
Some patients are concerned that providers will overcharge them for services because there is not a health insurance company involved that oversees the charges that are comparable to industry standards. In order to relieve some of this worry, you should discuss the charges for services before you sign a doctor's agreement. If a physician is acting in your best interest, he or she should be willing to provide you with a list of standard charges to verify that you are being charged the same amount of money for the same services as any other patient.
Why Liens Aren't for Everyone
Doctors and other professionals who provide services in this way make it possible for individuals without health insurance or other means of payment to receive the best treatment possible for their injuries. A physician's willingness to put his or her bill on hold to ensure that a patient is given the treatment necessary to recover from an accident is a sign that the doctor is putting his or her patient's needs above his or her own.
However, in some cases, a doctor's lien is not the best alternative. Doctor's liens are legally binding contracts wherein you are promising to pay the physician for services rendered from the proceeds of settlement. In cases where the settlement is below the amount due to the doctor, the individual may receive nothing from the personal injury settlement.
In fact, some patients will owe money to the physicians if the settlement proceeds are not sufficient to pay the bills in full. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you determine the approximate value of your case to help you decide if this type of agreement is in your best interest.
Before signing an agreement, you should consult with a qualified personal injury attorney to discuss your options for receiving the best healthcare for you or your loved ones. If you fail to obtain medical treatment for injuries sustained in an accident, you could be held responsible for your injuries getting worse and that could have a negative impact on your settlement. Therefore, these types of arrangements may be your best option if you need medical care but have no means with which to pay the costs.
List of California Doctors on lien
California has thousands of physicians from general practice to specialists who are willing to take patients on a medical lien basis. These doctors are well-trained, experienced, and caring individuals who only want what is best for their patients.
To ensure that quality medical care is available to everyone regardless of their means, these doctors agree to willingly put their bills on hold until your personal injury case is settled. There are several groups and organizations that provide lists of medical providers willing to accept personal injury patients that cannot afford to pay now. For more information, you should consult with a personal injury attorney, or you can visit one of the websites listed below.
Need assistance from an experienced Southern California attorney? Call (800) 838-6644 to receive a free case evaluation from a Timothy J. Ryan & Associates lawyer today.