Hi, I’m Roger Ghai with the Law Offices of Roger Ghai and I practice injury law in Kennesaw, Georgia and all over Metro Atlanta. Sometimes when we settle a client’s case, the medical provider has a lien. Now, what I mean by that is this. If you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle accident, and let’s say for example you were rear ended, and the other insurance company should pay by rights your damages. But, let’s say, for whatever reason, they’re not paying.
In fact, the other insurance company is not even required to pay all of your damages until the case is actually settled. Sometimes what happens is people have health insurance, and because they want the bill paid and they don’t want to delay payment to the medical facility because it might cause damage on their credit report, they use their health insurance to go ahead and pay the bill. What effect does that have on your case?
Well, under Georgia law, the health insurance provider in most instances is entitled to get paid back, so they will have what we call a lien. In fact, the code section for that is OCGA 33-24-56.1. In most instances, when a health insurance company has paid the bill, even though it’s really the at fault carrier’s responsibility, they have a statutory lien in Georgia. If there’s a settlement or when there’s a settlement with the other carrier, then the healthcare providers entitled to be paid back.
Now, they don’t always get paid back because sometimes what could happen is maybe the settlement doesn’t really compensate you for your pain and your suffering, and that’s called noneconomic damages, and maybe it doesn’t even fully compensate you with all of your out of pocket expenses such as lost wages, medical bills, and so forth. If it doesn’t, then they may not necessarily be entitled to be paid back even though it was a responsibility of the at fault party, that is, the at fault insurance company. It just depends on the particular facts and circumstances of your case.
I will let you know, though, that if they’re, if the settlement is a good settlement and then you tell or you instruct your lawyer, try to instruct your lawyer not to pay it, your lawyer is going to go ahead and pay it because they have a statutory lien under Georgia law and if he he or she didn’t pay the lien, then they would sue the lawyer for not paying the lien. That lien is always going to have to be addressed. Many times that lien can be compromised, that is, negotiated to a lesser amount. In fact, I had a case recently where the lien itself from the provider was over $10,300 or something of that nature, and we negotiated the lien down to $6,000. But, liens are very important in Georgia and if they’re not paid then what can happen is the insurance company that paid out the money to pay your medical bills, your health carrier, they can go ahead and file an action in court, a legal proceeding to get the judge to determine how much, if anything, they should be entitled to be repaid.
If you have an injury case and you have questions about whether you have a lien in the case, what type of lien it is because there are many different types of liens, and what should be done with those liens at the conclusion of your case, please call my office at (770) 792-1000