Physician’s Lien—Pay “Lien” Amount or Greater, “Actual” Amount?

I have a PI case were a chiropractor filed a lien for a relatively small amount, but ended up with a bill for several thousand. Client wants me to pay the lien amount rather than the bill. I’m concerned there may be an ethical problem with my doing that.

Answer: You’re between a rock and a hard spot. The Supreme Court has held the lawyer is ethically responsible when he has constructive notice but not actual notice. Your problem is the reverse: you have actual notice but not constructive notice. My best guess is that the court would ultimately rule that the lien is ineffective to secure the billed amount. I think you would win the lawsuit. But, do you want to take the chance and get in that lawsuit? Or, more pertinently, do you owe your client an ethical duty to take the risk and get in that lawsuit. I think I would contact Travis Pickens, the ethics counsel at the bar and be guided by his advice. I think if you do that, you protect yourself from an ethical problem. However, you will still probably have a lawsuit from the health care provider.