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  • Writer's pictureAcclaim Law Group

What is a lien in a personal injury case?

A lien may be placed on a third-party settlement which means the lien claimant has a right to recovery from the settlement. Liens are common in personal injury cases. Most common liens in personal injury settlements are health insurance liens and medical care liens.

Once your health insurance covers the costs of treating your injuries, the health insurance may place a lien on your settlement. The health insurance subrogation amount is only what is actually paid by the health plan not the original charges. Health insurance subrogation liens can be from private health insurances. Additionally, auto medical payments coverage is also known as another form of health insurance. When it comes to settling a case and determining the final amounts the lien claimants will be paid there are specials rules that come into play. In the State of California, the Made Whole Doctrine means the insured must be “made-whole” before the insurer.

Other liens can be from federal healthcare programs such as Medicare (elderly), Medicaid (low income), Children’s Health Insurance Program also known as CHIP (children), VHA (veterans), TRICARE (military member or their dependents), and IHS (Native Americans). In the state of California, the Welfare and Institutions Code § 14124.71, “(a) When benefits are provided or will be provided to a beneficiary under this chapter because of an injury for which another party is liable, or for which a carrier is liable in accordance with the provisions of any policy of insurance issued pursuant to Section 11580.2 of the Insurance Code, the director shall have a right to recover from such a party or carrier the reasonable value of benefits so provided.”[1]

Medical care liens can be established when the client is unable to pay for the medical treatment necessary and these arrangements can be made directly with the medical provider if it is an option that is offered.

Ultimately, a personal injury attorney will make sure the rights are protected for the injured party. The attorney can assist with the liens and negotiate with the insurer depending on the type of insurance or provider as mentioned above.

Disclaimer: While we always seek to establish accuracy when publishing articles, this piece is not intended to provide legal advice, and should not be used as such. Each individual case will differ and should be discussed with an attorney or legal expert. If you would like to inquire about pursuing a claim, please contact us at (858) 252-0781 or email


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