When people are seriously injured in accidents, it is critical they receive prompt and competent medical evaluation and treatment. If they are covered by health insurance, they have some level of comfort knowing they will be able to obtain necessary medical care. What happens when that individual is uninsured?
First and foremost, one’s injuries must be addressed and treated to avoid further complications and get on the road to recovery. In the personal injury context, if an injured party fails to receive appropriate and timely care, the insurance company and its attorneys will claim the injured party “failed to mitigate their damages” and will the point the finger at the injured party claiming he/she is at fault for the continuing medical problems or complications. There is even a California jury instruction that allows defendants to do so, reducing the amount of any verdict or judgment based upon the failure to seek medical attention.
Fortunately, the law allows those injured by the negligence or fault of another to “treat on a lien”. In this scenario, an attorney is able to refer a client to a medical provider for diagnosis and treatment. The attorney and client must sign a lien form which provides that the medical provider will be compensated from the settlement or judgment from funds received. While the liens advise the patient that the medical bills incurred must be paid regardless of whether the case is won or lost, many medical providers will take into consideration the circumstances of the case and will be willing to adjust the fees accordingly.
Unfortunately, even where one is covered by health insurance, or perhaps has Kaiser coverage, the last thing the doctor may want to do is get involved in a medical-legal case or lawsuit, having to attend depositions and/or testify at trial. When this occurs, the health care provider can cause serious damage to your personal injury claim, consciously or subconsciously.
In those cases where it is appropriate, the Lafer Law Firm can has the ability to refer clients for medical care, whether orthopedic, neurological, chiropractic or the like. We can also arrange for diagnostic studies including MRI’s, CT scans, lab work and even obtain prescription medication on a lien. There are surgeons, surgical care facilities and hospitals that will treat on a lien.
Treatment on a lien may not always be available or the best manner in which to obtain medical care. However, in those situations where it makes sense, it affords the injured the opportunity to obtain the care they need at a time when it might not otherwise be available.