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January 15, 2014
Board approves medical lien rule for use in personal injury cases

After several months of work, the Board of Governors approved a proposed rule amendment addressing when lawyers in personal injury or wrongful death cases want to hire another attorney to resolve complex medical liens.

John Alpizar The amendment, approved in December on the recommendation of the Rules Committee, now goes to the Supreme Court, which rejected an earlier version of the rule.

Rules Committee Chair John Alpizar presented the changes.

The Bar originally proposed a rule amendment allowing lien and subrogation work to be referred to another attorney under a reverse contingency fee agreement. But the Supreme Court rejected that proposal and held that the original lawyer was responsible for handling that work under the terms of the contingency contract.

The revised amendment proposed by the Bar allows for the referral in “extraordinary” cases. Board members have expressed concerns that handling liens and subrogation claims is an increasingly complex area and in some cases the original attorney will need outside help to get the best result for the client.

The comment also clarifies the intent that if the original attorney with the contingency contract refers out work related to settling liens, then the original attorney may not receive any additional fee or compensation related to that lien work.

[Revised: 03-24-2014]