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Geoff Trachtenberg
Geoff Trachtenberg
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Why You Need an Attorney That Knows How to Resolve Liens in a Personal Injury Matter

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There’s a saying concerning doctors that applies with equal force to lawyers:

Do you know what they call the person graduating medical school in the bottom of their class?

“Doctor.”

On par with hiring an attorney with superior personal injury knowledge and experience is finding an attorney with the knowledge and skill to properly resolve healthcare-related liens. Such an attorney can make the difference between a satisfactory result and a great result and, like doctors, not all attorneys are the same.

While everyone knows to hire an attorney who is good at “getting a recovery,” few clients focus on hiring an attorney that is good at “keeping a recovery.” They just don’t know better. Most people don’t know that, when someone receives a settlement or verdict of any size, there are typically numerous entities that assert a right and priority to payment out of the recovery. That is, before a client sees a dime from any recovery, these multiple entities typically demand some (or all) of the recovery pursuant to various legal, contractual and equitable rights.

What’s more, while some entities may be entitled to some part of a recovery, many entities assert inflated or invalid claims. Do you see why it is crucial to hire an attorney that is knowledgeable about these types of matters?

What kinds of entities assert claims? Everything from ambulance services, to hospitals and doctors, to Medicare and Medicaid (known as AHCCCS in Arizona or MediCal in California), to health insurance and workers’ compensation companies.

Why are these liens so complicated? There is a substantially different legal overlay for virtually every kind of entity and, while some my have rights, others may not, and it all depends on the particular circumstances of your case.

What do you need to do when hiring an attorney? Ask questions. Ask the attorney what kinds of liens would apply to your case. Ask whether the attorney has dealt with those types of liens and what his or her plan is in your case.

Does the attorney have any special expertise with respect to liens? My clients, for example, are often comforted to know that I lecture and train other attorneys on liens and have co-authored a book on dealing with such liens.