2 Other Subrogation Concerns – Veterans Administration And Child Support Liens

What is common to a lot of residents of Dallas, Fort Worth, Grand Prairie, Arlington, Mansfield, Benbrook, Burleson, Aledo, and other areas of Texas? One, there are a lot of veterans living in the state and two, there are a lot of people who are behind on their child support payments.
First of all, there is no correlation between the two, except they are easy and short discussions. Let’s talk about VA subrogation first.
When someone is injured as the result of a third person’s negligent activity and the Veterans Administration has paid benefits to the injured person, the VA is entitled to be repaid for the amount of money they spent on the veteran’s behalf. The reimbursement rights of the VA are written into law and are set out in the 1990 case, United States v. Maryland. This is a United States 4th Circuit case and in part says:
Federal law pertaining to veterans benefits places the Unites States on an equal footing with private hospitals in its attempts to recover from third parties the cost of medical services provided veterans for non-service-related injuries. Such equity is ensured by 38 U.S.C., Section 629(a)(1), which provides:
In any case in which a veteran is furnished care or services under this chapter for a non-service-connected disability … the United States has the right to recover or collect the reasonable cost of such care or services … from a third party to the extent that the veteran (or the provider of the care or services) would be eligible to receive payment for such care or services from such third party if the care or services had not been furnished by a department or agency of the United States.
The above statute defines at 38 U.S.C., Section 629(i)(3), third parties to include health care providers, employers, automobile insurance carriers, and “a State or political subdivision of a State.”
Bottom line – these Veterans Administration subrogation interests have to be protected and the failure to do so correctly could put someone in the position of being sued by the Veterans Administration.
So now, what about child support liens? What do they have to do with injury claims? Most important, Texas Family Code, Section 157.317(a), says a lien for unpaid child support attaches to the personal injury claim of a person owing the child support. The lien is enforced by the Texas Attorney General. This lien is inferior to that of a health care provider with a valid lien, which essentially means that health bills get paid before the child support lien. Also, a child support lien does not attach to the injured persons’ attorneys fees in the personal injury case. Think about it this way. If the attorneys could not be paid out of the settlement, then there is no incentive to get an attorney involved and thus there is no recovery to assist with the back child support payments.
An important note on child support liens is that there must be actual notice of the lien before it attaches to settlement proceeds. Contrast this with the other government liens where there does not necessarily have to be actual notice of the lien. These child support liens arise by operation of law and attach to all of the obligor’s property, as well as to an injury claim. Texas Family code, Section 157.261(a) and 157.312(d) make this clear. Child support liens may be filed with the County Clerk in the county where the injury suit is filed, the county where the divorce (or suit in the interest of the child) originated, or in the county of the child support obligor’s residence. Child support is not just for the dad – it applies to moms and dads.
The above are just two more examples why an experienced Insurance Law Attorney needs to be consulted when dealing with insurance companies.