Virtually every personal injury case, regardless of whether it arises out an automobile accident, premises defect, dangerous product, medical negligence or work-related injury, involves medical care for the victim. Often private health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid or some other medical benefit pays that medical care and then seeks reimbursement out of the victim’s recovery from the negligent party. Those claims are referred to “subrogation” or “lien” claims and grow out of contract, statute or equity. A dizzying array of rules, statutes, and case law affect the parties’ responsibility to reimburse the subrogation claimant or lien holder.
The victim’s medical care expenses are oftentimes substantial and can run into tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, of dollars. Not surprisingly, the amount of repayment can impact the resolution of a case. Reimbursement of the subrogation or lien claims can make resolution of the victim’s case against the negligent party difficult or even impossible since reimbursement diminishes the victim’s recovery dollar for dollar.
Claims for reimbursement of medical cost should be dealt with as soon as practical. An attorney handling personal injury cases can work with the subrogation claimant or lien holder and advise clients of the circumstances surrounding the claim for reimbursement, the amount of reimbursement, if any, and its impact on resolution of the case.