After being injured in a car accident or other personal injury event, you may find yourself receiving medical care in a hospital or health care facility. There, you may be given a hospital lien.
What does it mean to receive a hospital lien?
There’s no need to worry if you’re handed a medical lien. This document is a way for medical providers to make sure they are paid for their service. When your injuries were caused by third-party negligence—requiring you to seek emergency medical care—the hospital can claim payment out of the eventual personal injury settlement or verdict.
We’ll look closer at what it means to receive a medical lien and what you can do to make sure your rights are protected. With questions about recovering compensation after a personal injury event, please contact The Mejia Law Firm to discuss your case with an experienced legal advocate in Houston.
What Is a Hospital Lien?
A hospital lien is a request for payment out of a future settlement that will be paid in a personal injury case.
For example, a negligent driver’s actions caused an accident that required you to undergo immediate (within 72 hours) medical care. You’re taken to a local hospital for treatment. The hospital cannot turn you away when you’re in dire need of emergency treatment, so you are accepted as a patient, regardless of your ability to pay your medical bills now.
Because your injuries were caused by someone else’s negligence, they and their insurance company are responsible for your medical care costs. But the process of recovering this financial compensation through a personal injury claim or lawsuit hasn’t happened yet.
The hospital or other medical care facility has the legal right to claim repayment for medical services rendered by issuing a hospital lien, a demand for funds out of the case settlement. In essence, the hospital is claiming first right to their portion of payment out of the awarded funds before they are given to you.
Hospital liens can “attach” to various forms of financial compensation an injured party may receive after an accident or incident. Depending on the circumstances of the case and where it occurs, the hospital may have the right to issue a lien for funds acquired through:
- A court verdict
- An out-of-court settlement with an insurance company
In Texas, a medical lien does not attach to a workers’ compensation, Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Act, or Federal Employees Liability Act claim, nor does it attach to a claim against a railroad company that maintains a hospital where the injured party is treated.
Hospital Lien Laws in Texas
Provisions and requirements for hospital liens are included in the state laws in Texas. Chapter 55 on Hospital and Emergency Medical Services Liens states: “A hospital has a lien on a cause of action or claim of an individual who receives hospital services for injuries caused by an accident that is attributed to the negligence of another person.”
Stipulations detailed in Texas state laws on hospital liens include:
- A person is considered admitted to the hospital when they are allowed access to any department of the hospital for the provision of any treatment, care, or service
- A lien extends to both the admitting hospital and any hospital to which the patient is transferred for treatment of the same injury
- For a lien to apply, the injured person must be admitted to a hospital no later than 72 hours after the injury-causing accident
- Liens may only be issued for emergency medical services provided in a Texas county with a population of 800,000 or less
- The injuries must have been caused by another party’s negligence, not a purely accidental event or someone else’s willfully malicious actions
These and other stipulations are strict and limit the circumstances under which a hospital lien can be issued and attached. As soon as you receive a Notice of Lien, contact your attorney to have them review your case with you. If you have questions about what it means to receive a hospital lien, our legal team at The Mejia Law Firm can provide answers at no cost to you during a free case evaluation.
What Information Should a Notice of Hospital Lien Contain in Texas?
In order to be valid, there is a certain format a Notice of Hospital Lien must follow, and certain information that must be contained within. If there is an error in the issuing of the lien, it becomes invalid. It is important to have your personal injury attorney review your medical lien to verify validity.
Necessary information that must be contained in a Notice of Hospital Lien includes:
- Your name and address
- The party who is liable for the injury (not your name)
- Date of the accident
- Name and location of the treating hospital(s)
- Charges for medical services provided
The details of what charges you are responsible for, how much the hospital is actually owed, what is covered by insurance, and what needs to come out of your settlement amount can be confusing. Have your lawyer walk through the lien with you to ensure you neither over- nor under-pay for your treatment.
Overcharging can sometimes happen in these complex billing scenarios. While the medical facility should certainly be fairly compensated for the emergency life-saving care you were given, you don’t want to get into a situation in which you’re paying multiple times for the same services through different financial avenues.
A legal maneuver that can come into play when hospital liens are involved is an action known as insurance subrogation.
What Is “Subrogation” and How Does It Relate to Medical Liens?
Subrogation is fairly common when hospital liens are involved in a personal injury case. Subrogation is a process by which your health insurance company will first pay for your medical bills, and then pursue the at-fault party for the damages.
In its simplest terms, you “subrogate” or pass your rights to another entity. It is a way for you to transfer your right to seek compensation from yourself (the injured party) to your insurance provider (the party that has covered the cost of your medical expenses).
This legal action aims to protect the interests of all involved parties by requiring the liable party to cover the damages of your injury, ensuring your insurance company is not stuck with the losses while still allowing your insurer to cover your bills before the legal process of recovering compensation from the at-fault entity has been completed.
If this sounds complicated, it certainly can be. Having a skilled attorney on your side is the best way to guarantee that this process goes as smoothly as possible.
What To Do After You Receive a Hospital Lien
After you receive a hospital lien, you should contact a trusted lawyer right away. It’s best to work with a local Texas attorney who has a full understanding of the way medical liens work in our state and the federal, Texas, and municipal laws that may apply to your particular personal injury case.
Schedule a free case consultation at The Mejia Law Firm to have your hospital lien evaluated by an experienced attorney on our legal team. We have the legal knowledge to successfully handle personal injury claims and lawsuits involving a medical lien issued after medical services provided by a Texas hospital.
There is no obligation or cost to sit down with a personal injury lawyer from our law firm. Contact us via our online contact form below, or call our office today to set up your free consultation.