What is a Lien on a Personal Injury Case?

By Peter DePaolis

If you owe someone money related to your personal injury case or for some other debts, like past-due child support, you might find that the creditor files a lien on your personal injury case. A lien on a personal injury case provides notice to the court that the creditor expects to get paid out of the jury award if the plaintiff wins the personal injury lawsuit.

A Virginia personal injury attorney can help you navigate this situation and answer your questions, like, What is a lien on a personal injury case?

An Overview of Liens on Personal Injury Cases

Let’s say that you got hurt in a car accident. You were in the hospital for a while, had to undergo surgery, and incurred medical bills from the doctors, ambulance, physical therapy, and pharmacy. The group health insurance policy you have through work covered your medical bills after your deductible and co-pays. 

Your personal injury lawyer negotiated with the at-fault driver’s liability insurance company but did not reach a settlement, so your attorney filed a lawsuit on your behalf seeking money damages from the defendant. Your health insurance company filed a lien in your personal injury lawsuit seeking reimbursement for the medical bills they paid for you. 

You could not afford to pay the full deductible and co-pays, so your healthcare providers filed liens in your personal injury lawsuit asking to get paid the amount still outstanding. Assuming that you do not successfully challenge the liens or negotiate them to a lower amount when you win your personal injury lawsuit, a portion of the jury award will go to the lienholders to pay their claims.

Your Options if Someone Places a Lien on Your Personal Injury Case

Just because someone places a lien on your personal injury lawsuit does not mean that they are guaranteed to receive that amount of money when you win. You should evaluate the amount of any liens that get filed in your case to make sure the liens are valid and accurate. People can make mistakes.

Other debts, like delinquent child support, can result in a lien getting filed against your personal injury case. If that happens, you will want to verify that the amount is correct and that the person was actually entitled to receive child support from you. Sometimes, people file delinquent child support liens demanding support for a time period after the child was emancipated. 

People who try to handle their personal injury claims on their own without an attorney often face the shocking realization that, after the liens get paid, there is very little, if any, money left to compensate them for their injuries. Also, many people do not realize that liens can get negotiated to a lower amount. There are no guarantees in litigation. For this reason, lienholders might negotiate the amount of their financial claim and accept less money rather than take a chance on the results of a trial. Your Virginia personal injury attorney can explain your options in your unique situation. Usually, your personal injury lawyer will handle the negotiations with the lien holders for you. Getting a reduction in the liens could be helpful in settling your personal injury claim. Get in touch with our office today for legal assistance, we offer a free consultation.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.