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After 25% of a personal injury settlement is paid to satisfy a medical lien in WA state, is the outstanding balance still owed?

Seattle, WA |

In the state of Washington, in a personal injury case, when a lien has been filed with the state, the attorney is only required to pay a medical lien up to 25% of the settlement. Is the patient is still responsible for 100% of the fees. I understand this is an area where attorneys and doctors often negotiate, but does it cite anywhere in case law or in RCW 60.44.010 that the doctor is not allowed to collect on the balance owed after the lien has been satisfied? And this is assuming the patient has signed a financial agreement to pay for services, and no health insurance of 1st party auto coverage is available.

RCW 60.44.010

Liens authorized.

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Attorney answers 7


Yes. After a lien has been satisfied, the health care provider can still seek to recover monies owed directly from his or her patient. Most often, attorneys will seek to negotiate a settlement with the provider to prevent this from happening, other times, when the amounts at issue are large, a bankruptcy is the best option. You should discuss this issue with your attorney and or seek independent counsel from a bankruptcy attorney if that is appropriate.

Good luck!

If this information has been helpful, please indicate below. DISCLAIMER: This information is for general information purposes only. Nothing stated above should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. Scott W. Edwards Attorney at Law Schauermann Thayer Jacobs & Staples 1700 E. Fourth Plain Blvd. Vancouver, WA 98661 PHONE: (360) 695-4244 FAX: (360) 696-0583 E-MAIL:


Generally a lien is addl security for a debt. Your financial agreement is a contract. If it said you only owe if you collect enough from your case, no problem. Usually they say that you owe the money, but the doctor has agreed to wait for payment. While the lien provides a maximum to come from the settlement, it doesnt mean the doctor loses the balance. Ask you atty to try to negotiate a reduction or payment plan. Consider speaking to a BK atty if your financial/debt situation is bad. Talk to your current atty, as he should be able to explain your obligation to the creditor and the lien issues.


Scott and Robert have provided excellent answers here. They are correct about how RCW 60.44.010 operates in a settlement situation. Typically, attorneys will try to get the provider to negotiate the lien amount once a settlement is contemplated. If the provider won't do that, bankruptcy may be your only option or negotiating a resolution directly with the provider's office. Good luck.

1 - If you and I do not have a written and signed Fee Agreement for attorney services, then you are not my client and the content herein is for your education only and does not create an attorney/client relationship between us. Assenting to and signing a Fee Agreement with me and paying any agreed-upon fee makes you my client. 2 - IRS Circular 230 Disclosure: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, you are informed that any U.S. federal tax advice in this communication (including attachments) is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of: (1) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code; or (2) promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein. 3 - You should not rely upon the information provided in this response for any reason. You should seek advice from an attorney in your area who can review all of the necessary facts so that attorney can provide you with legal advice that is relevant to your specific facts and applicable Washington law. I hereby disclaim any legal liability of any kind for the information supplied in this response.


what the amount settled for depends on several factors. these are handled by your attorney. if you dont have one, you may need to retain one to assist. many times, if the bills and injuries are especially high, the attorney is important to net you compensation by getting waivers, etc.


If the patient signed an agreement to pay for those services, then anything else would be a breach of the contract which entitled the health care provider to go after the patient. Based that that breach, the doctor can seek a judgment against the patient which would then harm the patient's credit. It is better to come to some sort of arrangement with the doctor's office, rather than be in breach. Nonetheless, the clinic may not want to negotiate based on the written agreement, but it never hurts to ask to see if there is balance owing can be reduced.


Best bet is to have your lawyer negotiate the bills down.

Only 29% Contingency Fee! Phone: 215-510-6755


Yes I agree, but it is always a good idea to have your attorney attempt to negotiate the bills down. Sometime you can get the bills down below the 25%.

(206) 335-3880. We retain experts and begin contingency fees at 29%. However, communication through Avvo does not constitute legal representation. Representation by this law firm can only be established through a written agreement executed by both attorney and client. In the absence of such express representation agreement, this law firm does not represent the recipient or reader and no person or party should rely upon statements, opinions or advice contained herein.

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