Life happens fast after a car accident. The bills can start piling up quickly, and you might already be counting on the winnings from an eventual personal injury suit. But if you’ve accepted help in your recovery, the money you win in a personal injury suit might not be your own.

Motor vehicle accident racked up over $400 billion in costs in one year, and somebody has to pay those bills. It can be a huge relief if it isn’t you covering those costs. Unfortunately, if you accept help from an insurance provider, you may have to pay them back if you win a personal injury claim against a negligent party.

Liening hard

If you seek restitution for damages, the entity that originally paid your medical expenses may have the right to reclaim money spent from your personal injury suit:

  • Medical provider: Hospitals could seek to recoup the cost of care, though some limitations could make a lien unenforceable. A healthcare provider may lose its claim by failing to meet administrative requirements or trying to collect additional money when you’ve already passed the bill to Medicaid.
  • Workers’ compensation: If you accept money from a workers’ compensation policy after suffering a workplace injury, then additional awards may be eligible for a lien. The insurer that paid out the compensation benefits could place a lien on your settlement against a negligent third-party.
  • Government: State and federal programs like Medicare, Medicaid or TRICARE could all have first rights to the money you receive in a personal injury lawsuit. They are often at the front of the line after a settlement.

Make sure you understand the ramifications of accepting money for medical care, and what it could mean in an ensuing personal injury suit.