Have you been injured in an accident resulting from the negligence of another party? In these circumstances, it would be very unfair for you to be left paying for your own medical bills when someone else is to blame for your injuries.

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Luckily, in Massachusetts, you can file a personal injury claim or lawsuit against the negligent party who caused your accident. By doing so, you may seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and various other damages associated with your injuries.

Just be aware that numerous factors can influence how much compensation you eventually receive. For instance, you may have heard others use the term “lien” in relation to a settlement or award in a personal injury case.

Keep reading to learn more. The following overview will help you better understand what a lien is and how it may impact your compensation.

What is a Lien? Understanding the Essentials

In general, when someone owes a debt or other such obligation, a lien is a legal claim on their property. Its purpose is to essentially serve as collateral.

After suffering injuries in an accident caused by another person or entity can put you in a difficult financial situation. There are various reasons you may owe money to others as a result of being injured by another party’s negligence.

If this happens, a lien may be placed on your personal injury settlement or award. This is to ensure any relevant outstanding debts are satisfied.

Luckily, in Massachusetts, you can file a personal injury claim or lawsuit against the negligent party who caused your accident.

Types of Liens in a Massachusetts Personal Injury Case

Liens can take many forms in the context of a personal injury case. They include:

Medical treatment:

Perhaps you were unable to immediately pay for medical treatment you received for your injuries. If so, hospitals, doctors, and other such medical institutions and professionals could place a lien on your settlement. This is to provide notice that a portion of your recovery will be applied to your outstanding medical bills once you receive the funds.

Health insurance and workers’ compensation insurance liens:

Your health insurance may have provided benefits for medical treatment after your accident. Thus, your insurance provider may also place a lien on your settlement. Similarly, if workers’ compensation insurance provided benefits, your employer’s workers’ comp insurance provider may place a lien on your settlement as well.

Government liens:

An additional lien may be placed on your personal injury settlement or award if you received Medicare, Medicaid, or other such government benefits for treatment related to your injuries. 

It is important to note that some liens are “automatic”, while others require that notice be given by the lienholder.

These are some of the most common examples. A Massachusetts personal injury attorney can answer your questions and help you better understand whether any other types of liens might impact your settlement.

How a Personal Injury Settlement Lien Affects Your Compensation

A lien is one of many potential factors that could theoretically reduce the amount of total compensation you receive once you settle a personal injury case with an insurance company or are awarded damages in court.

For example, perhaps an insurance company settles your case by agreeing to pay you $50,000. However, maybe you have outstanding medical bills, and a hospital or insurer has given notice of a $10,000 lien on your settlement. If so, the lien amount would be deducted from your net recovery, after attorney’s fees and case costs.

That said, in some instances, liens don’t need to be satisfied in full. This may occur if, for example, the total amount of compensation a victim settles for is less than the amount necessary to satisfy all liens. If this were to happen, it might be possible to have the liens reduced or even waived. Regardless of the outcome, a skilled attorney may be able to negotiate liens to ensure that you achieve a maximum recovery.

That’s not to say this is guaranteed or even likely to happen. However, a qualified personal injury attorney could explore this option and fight to have your liens reduced or waived if there is an opportunity to do so. However, it’s also worth noting that having representation from an experienced professional could potentially help you secure more compensation than you might if you were to represent yourself, increasing the likelihood that your compensation will satisfy all liens in the first place.

Contact a Boston Personal Injury Attorney

At Swartz & Swartz, P.C., we appreciate that navigating a personal injury case can be complex, particularly when liens and other such factors are involved. That’s why our Boston personal injury lawyers strive to ensure our customers thoroughly understand all aspects of their cases, while also providing them with the quality representation they deserve. Learn more about what we can do for you by contacting us online or calling us at (617) 742-1900.

Need Help?

If you or someone you know, needs help from a lawyer, contact the law offices of Swartz & Swartz, use our live chat, or send us a message using the form below and we’ll get in touch to assess your case and how we can help.

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About the Author: Nolan Sloan
Nolan has experience working on a variety of cases involving motor vehicle accidents and general liability. Prior to joining Swartz & Swartz, Nolan worked as an associate attorney representing hundreds of clients in complex legal matters at several high-volume social security disability and personal injury law firms in Downtown Boston.

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