As news of potential settlements in product liability actions brought by women who developed blood clots as a result of their use of the drugs Yaz, Yasmin, and Ocella begin to percolate online and in national media reports, Plaintiffs whose cases have or may be settled are confronted with a frustrating fact of modern litigation, i.e. that the parties’ agreement to settle a case is only the initial step in the resolution process. Once a settlement offer is accepted by a Plaintiff, our office must then turn our attention to the successful resolution of any government or private healthcare liens prior to the release of any settlement monies. The resolution of healthcare liens is a complicated, yet essential, role of plaintiff’s counsel that helps us to protect our Client from exposure to civil and criminal liability while also ensuring that the Client, the person who was actually harmed as a result of the Defendant’s actions, receives the maximum amount of compensation for her injuries.
Once a settlement agreement is finalized between the Plaintiff and the Defendant, our firm must first take steps to identify any potential private or governmental lien holders. On the government side this means seeking, and receiving, confirmation from Medicare and Medicaid that the Client was, or was not, entitled to the receipt of government healthcare benefits at the time of her injury. Regardless of whether or not the Client was entitled to government healthcare, we are required by law to seek confirmation from federal Medicare and state Medicaid on each settled claim. If a Client did receive government assistance, we will review all medical bills associated with the diagnosis and treatment of the Client’s injury and work with government representatives to settle any outstanding liens. Oftentimes our office is able to settle outstanding government liens for far less than the amount claimed.
If, like the majority of our Clients, a Plaintiff was covered by private insurance at the time of her injuries, it is still to her benefit for our office to identify and resolve these liens prior to the release of settlement monies. Nearly all private insurance policies or contracts contain language entitling the insurance provider to a right of subrogation or reimbursement for the cost of treatment that was necessary due to another party’s misconduct. While state and federal law may not require that we attempt to resolve these potential private liens at the time of settlement, insurers, hospitals, and other providers may file a Complaint through the court system asserting their right to reimbursement at any time for three to six years, depending on the state where the Client resides, after the settlement of her product liability or personal injury claim. The threat of a suit initiated six years after settlement and the risk of a judgment for thousands of dollars of medical bills presents a huge risk to our Clients which we strongly encourage them to avoid through the resolution of private liens at the initial settlement stage.
The process for resolving private liens is nearly identical to the resolution of government liens. Our office will examine each potential claim to determine whether the treatment provided was related to the injury suffered by the Client. If a lien is determined to be valid our office will negotiate with the insurer or providers to reduce the amount owed and settle the lien for as little as possible in order to maximize the monies that our Client will receive.
The lien resolution process is a lengthy, time-consuming, but ultimately unavoidable aspect of modern civil litigation. As a Client the most important thing to remember is that our Firm’s timely and efficient resolution of healthcare liens allows us provide you with peace of mind that you will not be at risk of future claims from healthcare providers or insurers. Lien resolution also allows us to maximize any potential settlement recovery to you by reducing the amount of claimed medical expenses. As the process can often take as long as six months, understanding that settlement is only the beginning of the resolution of your case will enable you to plan for the receipt of your settlement funds with confidence and security in the fact that our Firm’s representation and work on your behalf does not end merely because you have signed a Settlement Agreement.
We hope that this post has been helpful in addressing any questions that you may have about the lien resolution process. If you have additional questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact our office and speak with Associate Attorney Zachary Murry. Also, if you are considering filing a claim for injuries suffered from the development of a blood clot while taking Yaz, Yasmin, Ocella, or any Drospirenone-containing oral contraceptive, and would like to know more about the litigation, potential settlement, or receive a free case evaluation, please contact us at (888)841-9623 or via email at Anneke@toledolaw.com.