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April 2017

An In-Depth Guide to Medical Liens

An In-Depth Guide to Medical Liens

You’d be surprised to learn that medical liens are fairly common. A lien is a demand for repayment that may be placed against your personal injury case. If you’re the victim and have filed a lawsuit to recover the cost of medical bills, your medical providers may be able to file a lien against your settlement proceeds.

So, what exactly is a lien?
There are several types; hospital liens, physicians liens, ambulance companies can even file liens… To put it simply, liens ensure doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers get paid for their services. These liens are similar to other types of liens in that they secure payment of a debt or obligation. An injury caused by a third party that requires treatment is subject to a medical lien if the provider doesn’t get paid for their services at the time of treatment. This happens any time a third party causes injury and medical bills and does not pay right away.
Here are several major types of liens you need to watch for:

Medical Provider and Hospital Liens
In some cases, hospitals are entitled to file a lien for repayment. Most often, this is conducted through a letter that you sign — stating you submit to a lien against your settlement, or because a statute in Oklahoma law allows a lien to be filed for their services.

From there, the hospital must follow several steps:

The lien must be filed in the county clerk’s office in the county where the hospital is located, and must be filed prior to payment of any money to the injured person. The lien requires the amount claimed, name and address of the hospital, name and address of the injured person, the date of the wreck of injury, and name of the liable party.

The hospital then must mail, by registered or certified mail, a copy of the notice to you and the person liable for causing your injuries. If the hospital doesn’t follow these two steps, their lien may not be enforceable.

Worker’s Compensation Liens
If you’ve been injured in a work-related accident, a lien may be issued if your medical bills and lost wages have been paid through your state’s fund. This lien includes the amount that worker’s compensation paid for your case.

Health Insurer Liens
A health insurer lien, which is contractual, comes from your health insurance policy. So, if your lawyer settles your cause, they can’t disburse any money to you until the health insurer has been reimbursed first.

Government Liens
If the government paid for any portion of your treatment, they have a right to get reimbursed if you recover money from the other party. Some programs like Medicare and Medicaid have different rights when it comes to liens, so it’s best to consult your lawyer.

Here’s a quick overview:
Medicare: This lien derives from federal law and is automatic. If your lawyer settles the case, money can’t be dispersed until Medicare is reimbursed out of the settlement fund.
Medicaid: If you receive health insurance through a state agency
If you are receiving health insurance benefits through a state agency, that is most likely a Medicaid claim. Federal and state law gives the state agency the same automatic lien on your case as Medicare has.

These government liens can have super priority, meaning they have much better protection, for the government, to get paid back.  Mishandling these liens can have serious implications.

What Happens If You Ignore the Lien?
If there’s one thing you don’t want to do — it’s ignore a lien. You and your lawyer could get sued and consider your rights to future health insurance or benefits jeopardized. In some cases, ignoring a lien may even result in a criminal offense.

So, conclusion? Don’t do it. Trust us, calling a lawyer and navigating the process correctly is the wisest way to receive the best return.

Don’t Panic, Here’s What You Need to Remember.
Clients will call, upset because a hospital or doctor has filed a lien. Most often, this fear stems from the belief that the lien attaches to their property (like a home mortgage) and ruins their credit. Something to keep in mind is the lien only attaches to the proceeds of the settlement. It doesn’t attach to homes, cars, or other property. These liens don’t affect your credit. It simply is the amount owed that will come out of funds paid by the liable party.

This is a complicated nuisance to personal injury law. This is why it’s important to hire a knowledgeable and experienced attorney to walk you through the process. Most often, attorneys can even find ways to reduce or eliminate the lien.
So before you ignore it, give EHM a call. We’re always here for you when you (or someone else) wants to get out of line.

Guide to Wind Turbine Leases

A Guide to Wind Turbine Leases

Wind turbines are quickly assembling all over the state of Oklahoma. If you have been approached by a wind energy company regarding land usage and leases, you should have your lease reviewed to ensure that it contains provisions to protect you as a landowner and is in line within the quickly developing and changing standards set forth by Oklahoma lawmakers. Wind energy leases cover a broad range of topics; leasing land, creating easements, restriction land use, future demolition of turbines, and the list goes on. To ensure you are making the right decision, we have created a list of three things to consider when negotiating wind turbine leases.
1. Land Usage 
Generally, while the wind turbines for a commercial wind project only use about three acres of land, 60 acres of land for megawatt is required. This buffer is to preserve wind flow, but you’ll need to make sure the lease clearly and fairly states your rights to use the land for farming, grazing; hunting or other purposes – and that you agree with them.
Most likely, the lease will prohibit the addition of structures that would affect wind flow over your property including barns, houses, and even trees. Make sure that you understand these obligations as well.
2. Time Frame 
The expected life of a wind turbine is 25 years, but leases can range anywhere from 20-50 years and typically include a renewal provision, extending the lease further. Make sure that you are aware of this period and consider your estate plans when you are discussing the lease.
3. Compensation  
Since you are giving up control of your land, you will want to make sure you are fairly and justly compensated. Usually, land lease payments are fixed payments based on acreage, towers or megawatt capacity, or are royalty payments based on a percentage of gross revenue, and acreage included within the project. Additionally, they can be a combination of the two. Make sure you’re clear with your desires while understanding theirs.
Even though this industry is relatively new, we have lawyers that are experienced in this area. They can provide competent information regarding leases, land use, and landowner’s rights. With the wind industry expanding, we can help you navigate your options and remedy your issues, just give us a call at 580-234-4334 or contact us here (http://northwestoklaw.com/contact-us/).

5 Tips for to Successfully Co-Parent

5 Tips to Successfully Co-Parent

Custody disputes often occur during children’s breaks from school– spring break, summer break and holiday breaks. Issues arise because when parents aim to spend more with their children and struggle to follow the custody layout.

Change is difficult, especially for children. Here are five tips to help avoid arguments and successfully co-parent.

1. Communication is Key
Plan drop-offs and pick-ups ahead of time. Review every detail and make it a goal to overcommunicate in these situations. They’ll help eliminate any misunderstandings moving forward. Set a time and place where you’ll meet and follow through on those plans. The more things are communicated beforehand, the fewer arguments there will be when exchanging the children. Additionally, make sure to go over any medications the children need to take, any schedules they need to follow, or any activities you need to take them to. This will shift the exchange to the child’s benefit.

2. Be Realistic
Custody agreements can be difficult for every person involved, parents and children alike. It is important to be realistic with your time, finances and your situation. Make sure there is always a plan set in place for visitations that fit your lifestyle — and that you can accommodate long visits from the children.

3. Involve Your Children
Although the last call will always be with the parents, making sure your children understand what’s happening and are involved in the communication process is important. Make sure they know when they’re going to be with the other parent and when they’re going to come back. Talk to them about any questions or concerns they may have and eliminate any stress that your children may be having regarding the custody agreement.

4. Make it About Your Children
Many times, custody agreements many times stem from resentment in the marriage but have nothing to do with actual parenting. Divorce can be very hard on children. The more you make decisions about them rather than the emotions, it makes the decision-making process a little easier. If your children are going to a safe and happy home environment with their other parent, you have to allow them to enjoy their time together as well.

5. Smile
Smiling during the exchange of your children reassures them that you are okay with them being with the other parent. The more your children feel you’re okay with the arrangement, the more they will be okay with it as well. Divorce is extremely difficult and it can play a toll on the kids, but making sure you are doing your best to make it easy for them will go a long way.

What other tips do you have to co-parent? Share your ideas and stories with us below in the comments and give us a call with any questions.

580-234-4334

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Ewbank, Hennigh & McVay Law Firm | 580-234-4334
110 N. Independence | Enid, OK 73701