When it comes to invoices from medical providers and other vendors, the standard rule in workers’ compensation claims administration is to pay what the administrator believes is owed and object to the balance. Unfortunately, the balance often becomes a point of contention resulting in a lien being filed with the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board, and a lien conference thereafter conducted. Lien disputes that are not resolved at a lien conference are typically set for trial, but only if the lien is substantial.
Even if a trial is set that doesn’t mean that the trial will go forward as scheduled. When the parties appear in Court and inform the judge that a settlement could not be reached, the Judge will again require that the parties negotiate. Often, if a settlement isn’t realized, the trial is then continued to a new date several months in the future.
Unfortunately, there are certain vendors who have a notorious reputation of filing liens on every invoice not paid in full. Even when a bill is paid correctly a lien is filed for the balance. Lien claimants are counting on the claims administrators to pay a little extra to resolve the issue to close the file. This practice is grossly unfair as the claims administrator already paid what is legally owed but are now under pressure to throw in a few extra dollars to get rid of the lien. When a claims administrator handles hundreds, if not thousands of liens, these extra nuisance value dollars can quickly add up.
Can anything be done about this unjust situation? One self-insured employer has done something about it. When dealing with certain vendors who have a notorious reputation of filing liens as to excessive sums not paid by the employer, they pay the valid amount plus a small overage. Thereafter, if the lien claimant seeks WCAB intervention, the employer has taken the “high road” in its negotiations with the lien claimant. The self-insured employer advises they have never been hit with a penalty for initially paying the valid amount which is owed plus the “kicker,” and that lien claimants who pursue the unpaid amount often get a cold response from the judge deciding the matter.
If your company has lien issues, feel free to contact the experts at F+B for assistance!