One provider asked for a lien and that was granted.
Medical providers don't have to ask for a lien, they need only send notice of it.
The lawyer said that they can still negotiate down a lien, even though it seems to actually guarantee that the provider (third party) gets paid. We do not see how this can be negotiated lower. Maybe it can.
Keep in mind that the same thing goes for your attorney's fee.
When it comes time to settle you can hit him up for a reduction. Your leverage is that you walk away from the settlement offer and file bankruptcy so nobody gets anything.
I wouldn't suggest mentioning that until the last minute when he puts the release in front of you to sign.
Different states have different statutes of limitations. In general when should the attorney begin the process with their demand letter to avoid any time issues?
I noted earlier that the SOL is 3 years in your state. Since MMI appears likely, the demand letter ought to go out shortly after MMI is reached and documented.
Do the insurance companies ever initiate contact to see what is going on or do they just put the claim in the drawer and wait?
Depends. Claim reps have diary systems where the claim pops up periodically for follow up. They can choose the frequency but don't necessarily need to make contact if there is no activity and nothing is expected. I would diary a file like yours for six months at a time and send a status request to the lawyer and diary it for another six months.
Therapist says rehabilitation potential is fair. Fair is somewhere between good and poor. It might be medical bills indefinitely. Someone has to declare MMI at some point, whether all issues are resolved or not (?)
MMI is determined by you and your doctor, then documented to the attorney. When that actually happens is anybody's guess.