Have you been injured and need medical treatment? Perhaps you were injured in a car accident by a reckless or negligent driver. Many people will find themselves in this situation and not know what to do.
Do you seek treatment, yes or no? What if you can’t pay for the medical treatment? Do you neglect treating your injuries? How do you obtain medical treatment if you were injured by another person’s negligence in Oklahoma?
This article continues our series on obtaining medical treatment after a car accident in Oklahoma. In this article, we will explain how medical providers can treat you on a lien basis, and how you should decide whether to pursue such treatment.
Obtain Medical Treatment Immediately
If you are seriously injured from a car accident or other conduct, you should obtain medical treatment as soon as possible. You would not want to acerbate an injury nor delay recovery because of payment uncertainty. Of course, this is a free country and this is your choice.
A doctor or clinic will generally render treatment immediately, even if this is not an emergency. If your injury is a true medical emergency, you will not be turned away. But even if it is a non-emergency, your doctor or the clinic may treat you anyway, as the law provides the medical provider with the right to file a lien for any treatment rendered.
How a medical lien applies to car accident cases in Oklahoma
Oklahoma law allows doctors and hospitals to treat you first, and to have a lien against you until they are paid in full. This lien, by law, attaches to any insurance proceeds, lawsuit settlement, or legal judgment or trial verdict that you obtain.
This is why there are car accident clinics that market their services to persons involved in car accidents. The clinics are working on the theory that one of the parties involved in the accident has insurance that could satisfy the cost of the treatment. Therefore, these clinics will provide treatment first, then file a lien, then attempt to sort out who should pay for the lien.
Should you obtain treatment on a lien basis?
This question involves many considerations. Only you can decide for yourself, but hopefully this article will help you reach that conclusion.
Consider how injured are you. Also consider who was at fault in the accident and what proof/evidence exists to confirm who was at fault.
Obviously, if you are seriously injured, you should seek treatment immediately.
If you are not in need of immediate/emergency attention, then you should assume control of your treatment. Get a reliable medical opinion as to your injury, and what the appropriate course of treatment would be. Inquire as to the cost of said treatment and how long it should take.
How to pay for medical treatment after your car accident: Health Insurance, Cash, or Settlement
Do you have insurance that would cover such treatment? This could be health insurance, or it could be Uninsured Motorist (UM) automobile insurance.
If you are paying cash, then be aware of the cost (you should be aware of the cost even if insurance is paying for it). But do not avoid treatment just because you do not have insurance coverage. Cash clients can often negotiate discount rates on health care. If you have the ability to pay, you should consider paying cash for your treatment. In fact, this is a good measure of the need for treatment. If you are unwilling to assume debt for the treatment, the treatment may not be that important to you. This is not always the case, but in a lawsuit, these issues will come up.
Getting medical treatment on a lien basis in Oklahoma
A third option would be to obtain treatment on a lien basis. In this scenario, the doctor or clinic agrees to provide treatment to you first, without up front payment.
After the doctor or clinic provides treatment to you, they will file a lien. This lien will attach to any insurance settlement or court judgment.
The important thing to remember is that doctors are not lawyers, and just because they agree to treat you on a lien basis, does not mean you will win your case. A physician’s lien is absolutely no indicator as to whether your case has merit or not, whether you were at fault or not, and has no bearing on an insurance company’s likelihood of paying for the treatment.
If you believe that the other person’s liability insurance should pay (because they were at fault in causing the accident) that is a perfectly acceptable position to take. But be ready to prove it. Be ready to analyze their liability. How obvious is it that they are at fault? What type of accident was it? Who else was there or what evidence do you have?
These rhetorical questions are not to discourage you, but are you educate you. Beware that as soon as you begin incurring medical costs, the opposing driver’s liability insurance has more incentive to deny liability and claim you were at fault.
And beware that you are ultimately responsible for paying the doctor or clinic, regardless of the outcome of your legal case against the other driver.
In cases where fault is not black and white but is very gray, beware of seeking treatment on a lien basis. This does not mean you shouldn’t get treatment, but you should be aware that at the end of the day, you are responsible for payment, regardless of whether you win or lose.
Need help analyzing your case? Call an experienced car accident attorney
If all of this is too confusing, then call Travis C. Smith, 405-724-8112 for help with your car accident case.