One of the most frustrating parts of a lawsuit is tying up all the loose ends after a case comes to conclusion. Even if you win at trial or your case settles, this, unfortunately, doesn’t conclude things entirely, and often, it can take months to sift through the various entities such as hospitals, doctors, emergency personnel, etc. that have a lien for services rendered relating to your case.
Things get a bit more complicated, however, when we’re talking about government aid. We’ve discussed Medicaid and Medicare liens in the past and the headache that it can be to get these issues taken care of, but another local issue that many often forget about is a lien by the Illinois Department of Human Services.
The Illinois Public Aid Code (305 ILCS 5/11-22) gives the department what is known as a “charge” over portions of what public aid recipients recover in a lawsuit.
This gives the department a lien over the amount of money they have paid in medical bills from the date of the injury to the conclusion of the case as well as a claim regarding the total amount of assistance paid to an injured party and their dependents if they were employable at the time of the injury and received public aid.
Also important to public aid recipients, the amount received from a lawsuit or settlement may affect their eligibility for aid (but not always — it depends on the circumstances). The bottom line (and the part that tends to have a frustrating effect on many public aid recipients) is that a case cannot be “closed” and money disbursed without satisfying the department’s “charge” — this is why it is so crucial for you to communicate these issues ahead of time with your attorneys so that everyone can stay current with information and keep up with requests to the Department of Human Services, instead of having to backtrack at the end and having all the hard work that brought you your successful result tied up in dealing with a potentially slow-moving process.
You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have anyquestions and to learn how we may be able to help you in the unfortunate event of an accident that caused you or your family or friends injuries – in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters – large or small.