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Bond & Associates, P.C.
In this issue…
What are medical liens? Often when someone is involved in a personal injury case, he/she does not have the ability to pay for the medical services rendered or he/she refuses to have his/her insurance company pay for the medical bills. In this case, the medical providers will file a lien with all interested parties. Most importantly, they will send a medical lien to the injured person's attorney to insure that they receive payment when the case settles or reaches a verdict.
There are seven separate acts providing for liens in favor of health-care providers in Illinois. These liens act to govern hospitals, physicians, dentists, physical therapists, home health care agencies, clinical psychologists and emergency medical services personnel. The most common in personal injury cases are hospital and physicians liens. The two statutes that apply to hospitals and physicians insure that they shall have a lien upon all claims and causes of action for the amount of reasonable charges, provided that the total amount of all liens hereunder shall not exceed 1/3 of the sum paid or due to the injured person on the claim or right of action.
Many have interpreted this language to mean that all liens cannot exceed 1/3 of the settlement amount. In an attempt to clarify the meaning of the statutes the courts must determine whether the hospital and physicians liens acts limit the recovery of all lienholders under these acts to a combined 1/3 of the plaintiff's recovery, or whether the statutes simply limit recovery under each individual lien act to 1/3 of plaintiff's recovery.
The courts have relied upon the plain language of the statutes and have determined that the legislative intent was that the amount claimed under each act be less than 1/3 of the plaintiff's settlement, but the total amount asserted under the two acts, together, may exceed 1/3 of the settlement. Therefore, the amounts of the hospital's and physicians' liens could not be reduced as long as the total amount of the liens filed under each separate act did not exceed 1/3 of plaintiff's recovery.
What impact does this have on a personal injury plaintiff? Assume that a personal injury plaintiff settles for $9,000.00 and has agreed to pay his/her attorney a 1/3 contingency fee. Under the court's present analysis, if the plaintiff had a hospital bill for $3,000.00 and a bill from his doctor for $3,000.00, he/she would owe $6,000.00 to the medical providers and $3,000.00 to the attorney. This would leave the plaintiff with no money.
Assume that the same plaintiff had one physician's bill for $3,500.00 and another physician's bill for $2,500.00 and agreed to pay his/her attorney a 1/3 contingency fee. If the plaintiff settles for $9,000.00 he/she would owe 1/3 of the settlement ($3,000.00) to the physicians to be split accordingly and $3,000.00 to the attorney. This would leave the plaintiff with $3,000.00.
The only difference in the two scenarios was from whom the plaintiff received medical attention. There is no rational basis for the legislature and the courts to continue to rule in this way, however; until the legislature passes a new law medical liens will continue to be decided the same as scenario #1.
Resolving medical liens can be very difficult. Always contact a personal injury lawyer when you have been injured or damaged by the negligent or wrongful acts of others.
June M. Peterson-Gleason has been an associate with the Law Offices of Thaddeus Bond, Jr. & Associates since February 2000. Her concentration in the area of family law, including divorce, post decree, paternity, guardianship and related domestic matters, has been a significant addition to an already extensive practice.
June has been licensed to practice law in the State of Illinois since November 1990, and has continued to represent clients in a professional, caring and individualized manner in the highly personal domestic related matters many people face during their lives.
Originally from Long Island, New York, June attended and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Vermont in 1986. She went on to attend IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law in Chicago, Illinois, and received a Juris Doctor in June 1990.
June is presently a member of the Illinois State Bar Association, the Association of Women Lawyers of Lake County and the Volunteer Lawyers Program of Lake County. In September 2000, she was honored to receive an award for her work on pro bono legal matters in Lake County, Illinois.
June has continued to provide excellent legal services for clients who are struggling to understand and cope with emotional and financial hardships often presented in family law matters. She has the understanding and knowledge to handle such matters in a professional and competent manner. Please contact her if she can ever be of assistance.
If you are receiving this newsletter, one or more of the members of our firm has represented you in a past legal matter or dispute and we thank you for your business. Were you satisfied with the service you received and the results we obtained? Did you feel that our fees were fair and reasonable? If so, please feel free to refer our firm to your friends, family and acquaintances. We strive to make our clients happy and nothing says thank you better than repeat business or a referral.
Our firm handles a wide variety of cases. While we may have helped you in one area of the law, you may not be aware that we also handle:
- Real estate law
- Residential closings
- Commercial closings
- Landlord representation
- Title disputes and litigation
- Family law
- Child support
- Orders of protection
- Prenuptial agreements
- Personal Injury
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Slip and fall
- Dog bites
- Products Liability
- Medical Malpractice
- Wrongful Death
- Worker's compensation
- Civil litigation
- Wills and trusts
- Small business formation and representation
- Criminal Law and Traffic Violations: Although we do not handle these types of cases, we can refer you to competent legal counsel
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