By the time you receive a settlement or damages for an injury caused by medical malpractice, your insurance company has likely already paid for medical treatment related to your injuries. If it's then proven that someone else caused those injuries, the insurance company is going to want their money back. When a third-party insurer foots the bill for medical malpractice, a subrogation lien is how they recoup their losses.
This is how it works: Your medical records provide information about your insurers. Once litigation has been initiated regarding your injury, those insurers are contacted and asked to provide a list of all the claims they have paid on your behalf. That list is taken into account as part of your settlement, minus any claims that were paid that are determined not to have resulted from the malpractice claim. It's important to start this step as early as possible, since some insurers can take a long time to provide their final settlement.
Discounts can also be negotiated from the claim totals, since the insurance company gets its money back without having to go to court or pay an attorney. Many times you can get attorney's fees deducted from your lien since you are the one paying the attorney.
Finally, once all the numbers are worked out, the subrogation lien-the amount the insurance company has already paid on your behalf-is disbursed to your creditors before you get your settlement. In some cases, you may be able to get your portion of the settlement first, but the rest will be held in a trust by your attorney until the creditors have been paid.
At Bouchillon, Crossan & Colburn, L.C., our attorneys have more than 35 years dedicated to giving clients the attention, advice, support and empowerment they need to effectively meet their goals. We are committed to the principle that all persons shall have equal justice under the law. If you or a loved one has been injured and is seeking a qualified personal injury attorney, contact our Huntington, West Virginia office to speak with an attorney about your case, or call 304-523-8451.