The workers compensation reforms in recent years have left many providers wondering, "why bother". If you are one of those, you are left in a quandary as to how do you take care of your current patients that subsequently have an industrial injury. Should you elect to treat them, a game of paperwork will ensue. I have talked to presiding judges and they truly do not know what the treating doctors dilemma is. The providers that play the game with an attorney on their side know what the status of the case is. The rest of us either guess or file a lien. The lien filing fee is now gone, but there are other reasons to avoid a lien. One reason, is it is a pain in the Bu** to fill out and file. You still need to follow up on it as it is not unknown for the WCAB to get busy and lower their work load by placing your lien application in the circular file. Another reason is the carrier can hire one attorney to take care of all issues at the same time. The reason to settle with you is diluted and maybe you will go away. One solution is filing an "Intent to file a lien" letter.
One of the provisions in the latest lien reforms is a lien can not be filed after six months from the date of final settlement. ( there are other timeline provisions) Attorneys interpret this as six months after you are noticed of the decision. Hopefully the carrier will do the right thing and satisfy your legitimate claim. Otherwise you file your lien within six months of notification of the final settlement. They will have to hire the attorney again to meet you at the WCAB. Technically you do not need this letter to protect your rights if you can prove the carrier received the billing prior to settlement. This letter reinforces your rights.
Am I the only one that had a carrier settle the case and state in the settlement papers that all bills have been paid and they have no knowledge of outstanding lien holders?
The letter I use is available at this linkletter.pdf
Michael Blott, D.C,FAFICC is a frequent speaker regarding Med-legal issues. He provides designated P & S reports assisting treating physicians throughout the state.
He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org to answer further questions.