Before You Receive Care, Have a Plan and Know Your Rights
Following a car accident in Anchorage, it is perfectly understandable to be uncertain of your next steps to protect yourself. You may have medical providers, your health insurer, employer medical trusts, and more attempting to manipulate you to sign a medical provider lien that may ultimately negate your rights.
Of course, they won’t tell you that signing the lien will negate your rights—their goal is to ensure they get paid, no matter how it turns out for you. Since Alaska does not have an anti-lien statute, signing documents you are unfamiliar with could have very negative consequences. Our personal injury attorneys and staff at Kelley & Canterbury LLC can help you achieve a positive outcome when you have questions about what to do next.
What is a Medical Provider Lien?
A medical provider lien allows your physician, surgeon, anesthesiologist, radiologist, or hospital to place a request for payment on your personal injury claim. In turn, this allows them to recoup any money owed to them after your injury. When you are harmed because of the negligence of another, when you seek damages, a medical provider can place a lien on the settlement you are awarded for any medical treatment you received. The lien can be placed prior to your damage recovery, asking for a portion of your settlement. It is incredibly important to be aware that many healthcare providers may ask you to sign a medical lien form like this after your injury.
Remember, no matter your specific situation, you are responsible for your medical bills, even though you did not cause the accident. Hospitals and doctors often send unpaid medical bills to a collection agency, which can destroy your future ability to obtain credit. While some healthcare providers will allow you to make small monthly payments, this is not always the case.
Once you sign a medical lien agreement, the medical provider will “perfect” the lien by notifying all interested parties. This way, a healthcare provider is essentially guaranteed the first payment from your settlement. Signing this medical lien can drastically influence negotiation of your settlement. If your settlement is lower than your medical expenses, then your entire settlement check is surrendered to your medical care provider. Sad to say, but doctors with patients that knowingly have lien agreements could potentially work to incur additional costs because they know they will receive payment.
Post-accident healthcare expenses can be substantially higher under a lien agreement—and you could receive significantly less. Unfortunately, medical liens and subrogation can even delay the disbursement of your settlement proceeds. The finance staff have also been known to spread false information regarding billing options to ensure the provider is paid, regardless of how detrimental that may be to you. It’s incredibly important that you focus on how you will survive financially during this time—speaking to an Anchorage injury attorney from Kelley & Canterbury LLC before you sign anything can help you do that.
What Are First-Party Payments and Why Do They Matter?
There can be two types of insurance claims following a motor vehicle accident. The first-party claim is the claim you file with your own car insurance policy, while a third-party claim is a claim you bring against the insurer of the at-fault party. Some states are “no-fault,” and require that residents purchase MedPay. This means that in the event of an accident, your own insurance will pay for your damages, including medical expenses and lost wages (up to a specific amount). The state of Alaska is not a no-fault state, but rather a pure comparative negligence state.
This means that even if you are partially at fault for an auto accident you are still allowed to claim your damages with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. MedPay is optional in Alaska and can be purchased for a reasonable cost. MedPay—first-party insurance—will cover 100 percent of your health care bills up to the limit purchased. If your medical costs exceed your MedPay limits, you can then file against the insurer of the at-fault party.
If the accident was your fault—or if the driver who hit you was uninsured or underinsured—you would also file a first-party claim against your own insurance company. It is important that you understand how to ensure the right party is billed, and how you can appropriately use your auto coverage, health insurance, and the at-fault party’s insurance in the best way possible. If you are asked to sign a lien agreement—especially if you do not have health insurance, reaching out to the team of legal professionals at Kelley & Canterbury LLC can make a real difference.
How Can Kelley & Canterbury LLC Help?
Having an experienced Anchorage injury lawyer can help you best understand medical liens in Alaska. This is not a battle you need to fight on your own. Following an Anchorage car accident, your focus should be on healing and getting back to your daily routine. Let Kelley & Canterbury relieve your burden by handling the legalities of your recovering compensation for your injury.
We will guide you through the legal process of your injury claim with empathy, working to alleviate stress every step of the way. While answering all your questions honestly and knowledgeably, we will work to get you get the financial compensation and medical assistance you need during this difficult time. Contact Kelley & Canterbury LLC today.