Liens in a Personal Injury Case
An Illinois personal injury case is not over when a settlement is reached with the tortfeasor’s (an individual who commits a wrongful act that injures another, either intentionally or through negligence) insurance company. In many instances, the work has just begun, the case is not over until the client has received his settlement check, the liens are paid, the release of liens are filed, the contractual right of reimbursement of the client’s health insurance provider is paid and release to the same is obtained and all other settlements proceeds are accounted for. There is a lot of work and effort that must take place after the release is signed.
In a McHenry County personal injury case, it is the personal injury lawyer’s responsibility to make sure the client receives his money in a timely manner and all of the statutory lien holders are paid. Lately, if not in most instances, getting the settlement check from the insurance company requires constant effort from our staff. We generally will telephone the defense attorney every few days and send him an email every other day and a letter every week until we receive the settlement check. It is very common for defense attorneys to sit on a settlement check and/or never request the settlement check from the insurance carrier which further delays the client getting his settlement check.
In one instance, Franks & Rechenberg, P.C. was required to file a motion in court after the case was settled and the dismissal order was entered to enforce the settlement agreement because the defense attorney refused to tender the settlement check. In that instance, the court awarded Franks & Rechenberg, P.C. attorney’s fees because the defense attorney failed to tender the settlement check despite repeated requests for the same. The court, in awarding the attorney’s fees, noted that Franks & Rechenberg P.C. documented each telephone call, email and letter to the defense attorney requesting the release and then settlement check.
If a lawsuit is filed in McHenry County, Woodstock, Illinois, the attorneys will usually sign a stipulation to dismiss and dismissal order. The defense attorney will not request the settlement check from the insurance company until the dismissal order is entered. Franks & Rechenberg, P.C. will have the court retain jurisdiction to enforce the settlement and adjudicate liens. If the lawsuit is dismissed without that reservation, the circuit court loses jurisdiction after thirty days and the party may be required to file a separate lawsuit to adjudicate liens, if necessary.
In a situation where the client has received Medicare benefits, a personal injury attorney in Algonquin, Crystal Lake or McHenry County Illinois is required to contact Medicare to obtain a list of all the medical bills paid on the claim. After the appropriate forms are sent to Medicare, Medicare sends a list of expenses they claim are related to the car crash. Then the client must determine if Medicare’s list is correct and determine if Medicare added certain doctors or medical procedures that were not related to the car crash. After an agreement is made with Medicare as to the amount of bills paid on the file, then the process can begin to determine the amount of repayment. In dealing with Medicare, namely C.M.S. (Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services), a federal government bureaucracy, it is very time consuming and arduous, but there is no way around it when Medicare has an interest in the case.
Medicaid, on the other hand, is very cooperative with McHenry county personal injury attorneys and dealing with the Illinois Department of Public Aid will generally only take one to two weeks to resolve their lien. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services are very responsive to attorneys, particularly when determining the amount of their lien and their required repayment. Both Medicare and Medicaid have a super lien, thus any medical bills paid by Medicare or Medicaid must be taken into consideration and repaid before the client receives his or her settlement.
After a determination is made as to the amount of liens for each provider, agency, health insurance carrier and medical payments auto insurance carrier that is required to be paid, a request is made to the tortfeasor’s insurance carrier to issue separate checks so that the client’s settlement is not further delayed by putting all the lien holders on one check. Some substandard insurance companies will put all the leinholders on a settlement check knowing that it is nearly impossible to obtain all the proper endorsements, thus delaying the ultimate resolution of the claim. Substandard insurance companies will leave any delay in payment on any claim because it is a benefit for them.
David N. Rechenberg has over twenty-three years of experience in handling personal injury cases and dealing with liens, thus making the process after reaching a settlement as quick and as painless as possible for the injury victim/client.
To learn more about a McHenry County personal injury claim or car accident case in Crystal Lake, Algonquin or Lake in the Hills, please order my free book entitled “Seven Deadly Mistakes That Can Destroy Your Illinois Car Accident Case” by clicking the image below.
You can also order a free CD entitled, “Learn What Seven Questions To Ask When The Insurance Adjuster Calls Asking For Your Recorded Statement“.