If you or a loved one sustain an injury caused by the actions of another individual or entity in New Mexico, then you will likely be able to recover compensation for your losses. This includes coverage of any medical bills you sustain due to the actions of the other party. However, these claims can take some time to resolve, and you need to know how your medical bills get paid before a settlement comes through. That is where a medical lien comes in.
What is the Purpose of a Medical Lien?
After a person sustains an injury caused by the actions of another individual or entity in New Mexico, they will inevitably have medical bills. Ultimately, the goal is for the at-fault party or their insurance carrier to pay these medical bills, but these claims can take a while to resolve. Injury victims need medical care immediately, and they often need follow-up medical treatment that can take months or even years to complete. Injury victims cannot wait for a settlement to come through to pay for these medical bills.
Medical professionals will start sending bills right away. In some situations, it may be possible for an injury victim or their attorney to talk to a hospital or a doctor about handling all of the medical care with the expectation that they will recover compensation for the treatment from any eventual settlement or jury verdict. While a medical professional may agree to do this, the hospital or medical agency will have the right to place a medical lien on any settlement or judgment that does eventually occur (NM Stat § 48-8-1 (2018).
How do the Medical Providers Get Paid?
When a medical lien is placed on a final settlement or jury verdict for a case, this means that the medical providers will be named as a receiver of the compensation. When the final settlement or verdict amount is dispersed, it will typically go to a bank account controlled by one of our Albuquerque personal injury attorneys. The lawyers will collect their legal fees, and the medical expenses will be paid out of this settlement or judgment amount. There remaining compensation will go to the plaintiff (the injury victim).
Do You Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?
It is very important to work with a skilled personal injury lawyer in New Mexico when you are dealing with these claims. An attorney will be able to approach the medical provider and ask them to continue medical care on your behalf with the expectation that they will receive compensation in the future. Additionally, your attorney will be the one to handle all negotiations with the insurance carriers and at-fault parties to recover full compensation for your losses.
It is essential to understand that you should never accept a settlement from an insurance carrier until after you have reached what your doctor considers maximum medical improvement. If you accept a settlement before your medical care has ended, or if you later discover more injuries caused by the defendant, it will be impossible to go back and reopen your claim to recover additional compensation.
Let an attorney work with your medical professionals to assess when your care is complete and then work towards recovering maximum compensation from the other party.