Once you have settled your case, there are still quite a few things that must happen before funds can be disbursed. This includes your portion of the settlement. If you have entered into a contingency fee agreement with your attorneys, this includes your attorney’s fees and expenses.
First, your attorneys and the defense attorneys must agree on the language of a Release & Settlement Agreement for you to sign. This document outlines the details of the settlement. Importantly, it details what claims are being settled and the amount. Your attorney will thoroughly examine the document to make sure that signing it is in your best interest.
Government Medical Liens
Medical liens must be resolved prior to disbursing funds. You may not know you have a medical lien. But by law, personal injury settlements must be reported to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Even if you do not have Medicare or Medicaid, the settlement is reported to CMS. CMS then determines whether it is entitled to any of your settlement funds. If so, your attorneys, directly or through a lien administrator, will work with CMS to negotiate the lien to reduce the amount. This is to ensure that you receive as much of the settlement funds as possible.
Depending on the type of case, liens may be resolved through audits or through a flat rate model where the lien amount is based on the injury. Unfortunately, this can be a time-consuming process. But it is necessary and ensures that you receive as much of the settlement funds as possible.
Private Medical Liens
Private insurance providers like Humana, Aetna, etc. may also assert claims to your settlement funds. Like government liens, these must be resolved prior to disbursement of funds.
If you have any non- medical liens, including pre-settlement funding, these too must be handled prior to disbursement. Your attorneys will reach out to the lien holder to obtain a final payoff amount. They will also attempt to have it reduced.
Notice to Third Parties
In some special cases, notice must be given to third parties before funds can be released. For example, under Act 312, notice of settlement must be sent to the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources for some land contamination suits.
Each of these steps is crucial to protect a client’s interest. While the settlement process may seem drawn out, these steps must be taken to ensure that your receive the maximum compensation for the injuries you have suffered.