One of the biggest obstacles in mediation of personal injury cases is the presence of medical and other liens. These can be health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, workers’ compensation, insurance med pay and PIP, to name a few. Talking to the lien holders in advance can be critical to getting a case settled in mediation. Sometimes cases go out unresolved that would have been settled if the attorneys had contacted lien holders in advance and determined what they could settle for, or at least had someone available by phone at the mediation. Often these cases can be resolved with follow up phone calls, but court mediators do not always perform this service, and are under no obligation to do so. The private mediator will assist with this but may have to charge for his or her time.
Omitting to deal with liens can expose the Plaintiff and attorneys to potential additional litigation and even liability. It is in everyone’s interest to make certain that all liens and interests are accounted for. It also allows Plaintiffs’ counsel to properly advise clients of the all-important information, what the settlement will mean to them in Dollars after everything is paid for.
Chiropractors and other providers may have unpaid bills as well. Often if you contact these people they will work with you on settlement, and many will even adjust their fees in hard-to-settle cases.
Since attorneys know they will have to settle with lien holders at some point, it makes sense to make contact early and work with them. If there are Medicaid issues, attorneys may want to consider including them into the suit. O.D.J.F.S. attorneys in Ohio are good to work with, and the mediation process will almost always be facilitated. Medicare cases require you contact CMS and begin the process as early as possible to avoid having a stumbling block at mediation.
Remember, most third-party lienholders allow some deduction for the cost of recovery. Some have a specific formula to follow or statutory allowance, while others are able to negotiate with you. Making contact ahead of time, and informing the mediator that the lien has been negotiated will assist the mediator in acheiving a full settlement.
Most private mediators are happy to discuss these issues with attorneys to help them ensure the case will be ready going into mediation. Selecting a mediator who has experience with these issues will help ensure the success of the mediation.