Illinois Supreme Court Changes Rules Regarding Medical Liens


At the end of March, the Illinois Supreme Court handed down an important decision that dramatically changed the way that health care liens are handled in personal injury cases. Before Wendling v. Southern Illinois Hospital Services, Docket Nos. 110199, 110200 cons., the “common fund doctrine” applied to medical providers. Under this doctrine, medical providers were responsible for paying their share of the costs of recovering unpaid medical bills. The court explained the rationale behind the doctrine as follows:

The common fund doctrine is an exception to the general American rule that, absent a statutory provision or an agreement between the parties, each party to litigation bears its own attorney fees and may not recover those fees from an adversary…Underlying the doctrine is the equitable concept that the beneficiaries of a fund will be unjustly enriched by the attorney’s services unless they contribute to the costs of the litigation.

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