Image of a stethoscope and a calculator laying across some medical bills

In the United States, medical treatment ranks among the costliest services, with $4.5 trillion spent on healthcare in 2022. After an accident, you might face overwhelming medical bills, especially if your injuries are severe. Often, this means relying on health insurance or medical services to cover these costs.

In South Carolina, if you are filing an injury claim, your health insurance or provider might place a medical lien on your accident settlement to recover the funds used for your treatment. You must pay off existing medical liens before receiving your recovery award.

Read on to learn how long you have to pay back a medical lien in South Carolina and how our South Carolina personal injury lawyers at Joye Law Firm can help with your case.

What is a Medical Lien?

A medical lien allows healthcare providers or insurers to get paid from your legal settlement or court award. It’s typically needed if you can’t pay your medical bills immediately after an accident. For example, if you’re in a car crash and need expensive medical care but can’t afford it, the hospital may still treat you without payment at that time.

However, to recoup their costs, they can place a medical lien on any future legal settlement or court award you might receive from a lawsuit related to your injury.

How to Find Out if You Have a Medical Lien

To find out if there’s a medical lien against you, pay attention to written correspondence from your healthcare provider or insurance company. Under the No Surprises Act, providers must tell you the cost of services upfront, so you should know what procedures will cost and the payment plan.

It’s also a good idea to talk to your attorney. They can check with the court handling your injury claim to see if a lien has been filed. Knowing about any medical liens early on helps you understand your financial responsibilities and results in a smoother resolution of your personal injury claim.

Paying Your Medical Lien

The duration before a medical lien must be paid can vary based on the terms of the lien, state laws, and the resolution of your personal injury case. South Carolina doesn’t mandate a specific time frame for paying back your liens.

Generally, however, a medical lien remains valid until your personal injury claim is resolved through settlement or court judgment. Once the case is complete, you pay the lien out of the settlement funds. Under the state’s laws, healthcare providers may not file a medical lien against you for past expenses if it’s been more than three years after you received your settlement.

To pay your medical lien, you or your attorney negotiate the final amount with the lienholder and then use the proceeds from your personal injury settlement or judgment to satisfy the lien. Payments are often handled as part of the settlement distribution process, which means your attorney reimburses all lienholders from the settlement funds before you receive the remaining amount. In other words, typically your lawyer handles the process for you and you don’t have to do anything. The attorneys at Joye Law Firm also work with providers to try to reduce the amount owed, enabling our clients to keep more of their verdicts or settlements.

Contact a South Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer Today

If you’ve sustained injuries in an accident, contact Joye Law Firm for a free consultation and guidance on insurance and medical liens. Our personal injury attorneys are committed to ensuring you understand your rights and advocating for fair compensation.

We understand that an accident like a car crash can be traumatic, and the stress of a lawsuit takes a toll on victims. Before you hand over the bulk of your settlement to pay off a medical lien, talk to an attorney at our law firm so we can protect your interests.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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