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North Carolina Automobile Accident Medical Liens

Top view of stressed young sitting woman hands holding the head worry about find money to pay credit card debt and all loan bills. Financial problem concept.

Do you need an attorney who can handle, explain, and negotiate medical liens in personal injury cases? For many automobile accident cases, the “anchor” of the damages is the plaintiff’s medical bills. Your settlement is frequently impacted significantly by the amount of your medical bills. One of the first questions our attorney’s field from our clients is often, “How much will I have to pay my medical providers in bills?”. If you have been injured and your private health insurance has paid your bills, you may be entitled to keep most or all of your settlement except for attorney’s fees and costs. However, if you received medical treatment from an emergency room, chiropractor, or others and did not pay the amount due and owing, there are often medical liens in personal injury cases.

North Carolina Medical Liens Statute

N.C.G.S. § 44-49 states “there is hereby created a lien upon any sums recovered as damages for personal injury in any civil action in this State.” The “lien is in favor of any person, corporation, State entity, municipal corporation or county to whom the person so recovering, or the person in whose behalf the recovery has been made, may be indebted for any drugs, medical supplies, ambulance services, services rendered by any physician, dentist, nurse, or hospital, or hospital attention or services rendered in connection with the injury in compensation for which the damages have been recovered.”

Essentially, this statute requires your attorney to distribute portions of your settlement to medical providers who have “perfected” a lien. The medical provider must take affirmative steps to “perfect” their lien. For instance, when your attorney requests copies of records and bills from a provider, they must be provided without charge. The hospital or physician must also provide written notice of the lien to your attorney. Failure to do so means that your attorney is not required to disburse any portion of the settlement to the provider. It does not, however, eliminate the debt owed by the injured party.

Medical Liens in Personal Injury Cases

It is also essential to understand that medical liens in your personal injury case are limited by N.C.G.S. § 44-50. Specifically, the medical lien is capped at 50% of your settlement or verdict after attorney’s fees are deducted. Because many attorneys use a 33% contingency fee structure, the statute limits medical liens to 33% of the settlement. This cap helps make it more likely you can recover some amount for lost wages, pain and suffering, and disability. Critically, the medical lien is separate from your financial obligation to pay the provider. For example, a $10,000 medical bill requires your attorney to pay $7,000.00 of any proceeds to the provider. You remain liable for the other $3,000.00 unless your attorney can negotiate a reduction (which is sometimes possible).

If you have been involved in a serious car accident and have outstanding bills that could lead to medical liens in personal injury cases, you should contact a reliable, aggressive personal injury attorney. Maginnis Howard’s experienced accident attorneys handle all personal injury cases on a contingency basis and offer free consultations. To speak with an attorney today, call the firm at (919) 526-0450 or use our confidential contact page. The firm’s lawyers regularly represent clients with medical liens in personal injury cases across North and South Carolina. We have three conveniently located offices in Charlotte, Raleigh, and Fayetteville.