If you are pursuing a personal injury case against an at-fault driver or at-fault party, and you are a military member on active duty or a veteran, you may find that either Tricare or Veterans Affairs (VA) has asserted a lien on any settlement or judgment you could receive.
What is a VA or Tricare Lien?
Active military members or veterans that are injured in auto accidents or by another person’s negligence will likely receive medical treatment at an emergency room and from other doctors and healthcare providers. Regardless of whether your care is covered by the VA or Tricare, any payments made must be repaid when you collect from the person or corporation that caused your injuries.
As discussed in prior blogs, both Kansas and Missouri have laws that prohibit health insurance companies from being reimbursed from a personal injury settlement. These state laws are in place because the health insurance companies have already been compensated for providing the payment for the medical services an injured person receives. Reimbursing them again from a settlement would result in double recovery to those health insurers. As previously discussed, however, federal law provides many exceptions, including Medicare and Medicaid and Self-Funded ERISA Plans. Federal law also provides that Tricare and the VA have a right to reimbursement. The policy behind sounds good—we want the responsible party and not American taxpayers to pay for the medical care.
Should the VA and Tricare Have A Right To Reimbursement?
The truth is, however, that just as health insurers already paid for their benefits, our active military and veterans have also paid for the right to these benefits by virtue of their service to our country. Forcing them to reimburse the federal government results in double recovery for the federal government and further works to harm the women and men who serve and have served our country. Thus, Congress should change this law so that these medical expenses do not have to be paid from an injured veteran’s settlement or judgment.
Dealing With VA and Tricare Liens
An excellent personal injury lawyer will contact the appropriate contractor to begin the process of lien resolution. He or she will also always audit the medical bills to ensure that any VA or Tricare claims are actually related to injury caused by the at-fault party’s negligence. Often, health insurers, including the VA and Tricare, seek reimbursement for the cost of treatment that is not related to the injury. Getting those unrelated claims removed will result in more money in the injured person’s pocket.
In addition, an attorney will help determine how to request a compromise reduction on the recovery amount. An injured person can present evidence explaining why the amount should be reduced and how the injured person will use the additional compensation.
Contact A Personal Injury Lawyer
If you have been injured in an accident and you receive Tricare or VA benefits, Tricare and/or the VA will have an absolute legal right to be reimbursed from any settlement or judgment you receive. Make sure you have a personal injury attorney experienced with resolving these liens. If you have been involved in an accident, or if you want to talk with an attorney about making sure any liens are handled appropriately, call Aaron House today for a free consultation at 816-875-4260.
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