One of the biggest pains of your Ohio personal injury case is negotiating and paying liens on your recovery. Liens can become very complicated and if you don’t properly deal with them, you will be in trouble with an insurance company, the State of Ohio, or even the U.S. Government.
Ohio law states that if a health insurance company pays out money to cover a person’s medical bills if injured by someone else’s negligence, the health insurance company is entitled to be paid back out of any future settlement of the case. This law applied to my son’s case, specifically because our insurance company had paid for the vast majority of Josh’s medical bills while he was in the hospital. The health insurance company was entitled to be paid back out of our settlement with the pool owners, or in other words, they had a “lien” on Josh’s recovery.
The health insurance lien was the biggest lien we had to deal with during the settlement of the case. After three weeks in the hospital, two brain surgeries, and much time in intensive care, our health insurance carrier had paid out a very large amount of money.
After the mediation, we communicated with the health insurance company over the phone to try to get a handle on the amount they were expecting to be paid back out of the settlement. Oftentimes, health insurance companies are willing to negotiate with law firms and may reduce their lien. The reason for this is that the health insurance company realizes that if the attorney had not put forth time and effort to recover the money from the at-fault party, the health insurance company would not get paid back anything at all.
Mike, our attorney, sent the health insurance company a letter recapping the negotiations that we had had up to that point and requested a decrease in the health insurance lien. The letter was detailed and indicated the risk that we (and the health insurance company) would have if we failed to settle the case, including potentially having the case thrown out of court by the judge, or having the jury find against us. If either of these things happened, the health insurance company would get nothing. But, if they lowered the lien, the more likely it was that we would be able to settle the case and the insurance company would get something.
When we heard back from the health insurance company, they said that they were willing to reduce the lien by a satisfactory number. I was even surprised by how much they did decide to reduce it, and I knew Mike’s negotiation skills played a big part in that decision. I was thankful to have such a skilled attorney on my case.
Lesson to be learned: Your attorney is well equipped to negotiate down liens on your recovery in order to be able to put the highest possible amount of money in your pocket.
You should have an attorney on your case from “day one” so that you can use all of their advice about how to pay for medical care and other expenses that come along with a personal injury case. It is important to pay your bills the smart way from the beginning to help keep liens under control, maximizing the amount of money that you will receive at the time of settlement. This will make it easier to settle and save time, expenses, and anxiety associated with trial. Remember, the more of your settlement that you get to keep for yourself and your family, the better.