This is the fifth and final part of the 5-part blog series about the pitfalls of trying to settle your own New York personal injury claim without a lawyer. Here’s pitfall number 5:
5. WATCH OUT FOR VULTURES. In some cases, you can’t take the settlement money without others, officially called “lien holders”, but whom I call “vultures”, holding out their hand for a piece of the pie. I call the lien holders “vultures” because they don’t participate in the “hunt”, i.e., the hard work of getting the settlement, but sit around and wait for you to make the kill, and then swoop in for a piece of the meat.
Unfortunately, this is their legal right. In a New York personal injury case, this is true especially if Medicare or Medicaid or ERISA-qualified health insurance policy paid for some or all of your treatment. Also, workers’ compensation will have a lien to recover any medical treatment or wage loss payments. If you take the settlement money, and then spend it, without first paying off the vultures, bad things will happen! They will come after you for reimbursement, and in the case of workers’ compensation, they might cut you off completely from any further comp benefits. And if you did not calculate these liens into your settlement demand, well, you’ll have to sit back and watch them eat the whole carcass of your settlement, leaving you nothing but scraps, or nothing at all.
By the way, if you hired a New York personal injury lawyer, he or she would know how to negotiate these liens downward. But if you have elected to go it alone, you can just about forget about that — it is too complicated. That’s another reason why you should have hired — and maybe still should hire — a lawyer!
So remember, DON’T FORGET TO INVESTIGATE LIENS AGAINST YOUR SETTLEMENT.
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear from you!
Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
Central NY Personal Injury Lawyer Michaels & Smolak, P.C.