Posted on behalf of Anderson Cummings on Sep 12, 2022 in Personal Injury
Hospitals and other medical providers often place liens on personal injury settlements because victims cannot pay up front. Without help from an attorney who may be able to negotiate a reduction in a lien, you could end up losing a large chunk of the compensation awarded to you at the end of your case.
Below, we discuss how hospital liens work and how they may affect your case. If you have any questions about the influx of medical bills after an accident, call our Fort Worth personal injury lawyers today.
We offer a free legal consultation to discuss your claim. If you choose to work with us, we do not charge you any fees while we work on your case. There is no financial risk to you.
What is a Hospital Lien?
Hospitals and other medical providers are entitled to claim a payment for the services rendered to injury victims. Since most hospitals cannot reject patients due to the person’s inability to pay for treatment, hospitals will bill you later.
If you were injured in an accident and are filing an insurance claim, service providers may apply a lien to any compensation you recover. The lien must be paid out before you receive compensation, which means a lien reduces the amount of compensation you receive.
Hospital liens are not uncommon after a car accident or other accident that results in serious injuries, as most victims of these accidents require emergency medical attention.
Each state has its own laws governing how liens are implemented and enforced.
What Are the Hospital Lien Laws in Texas?
In Texas, hospitals and Emergency Medical Services Providers (EMSP) can file a lien on a cause of action. However, there are certain steps that must be followed by the hospital or EMSP for the lien to be enforceable.
A written notice of lien must be filed with the county in which the services were provided before the settlement or recovery of compensation. That written filing must include the following:
- Patient’s name and address
- Date of the accident
- Name and location of the hospital or EMSP
- Name of the party liable for damages, if known
The hospital or EMSP must also notify the injury victim and his or her attorney by regular mail within five business days after the lien has been officially recorded by the County Clerk.
Written notification to the injury victim may not be required if the person was notified of the lien at the time medical services were rendered. In-person notification means the patient signed an authorization form provided by the EMSP that is written in 14-point bolded font.
It is important to note that the lien cannot be attached to any real property.
Hidden Liens and Explicit Liens
An explicit lien is one that the injury victim should know about. Patients who sign the hospital’s authorization form are generally explicitly informed about the lien.
A hidden lien is one the patient does not generally know about right away. Since Texas law requires patient notification, the person will learn about the hidden lien soon after the accident. Sometimes a hidden lien may result from an emergency room visit you thought was covered by your own health insurance. If you have an HMO or PPO policy, there may be some fine print that states the insurance will not cover medical services if they were required due to an accident caused by a negligent third party.
Although both types of liens may be enforceable, a hidden lien may have a loophole that allows you to avoid having to pay it all back.
How an Attorney May Be Able to Help Resolve a Hospital Lien
If you receive a notice of a hospital lien after an accident, you should contact an attorney right away. Your lawyer may be able to negotiate with the hospital and the insurance company to reduce the amount of the lien. This could help you keep more of the compensation you are owed after someone else’s negligence results in your injuries.
In some cases, your attorney may even be able to invalidate the lien entirely, especially if it was a hidden lien attached to your compensation. For example, if the hospital fails to appropriately file the lien with the county or notify you within the required time.
Resolving a hospital lien can be complex. It often requires extensive knowledge of state laws and hospital functions. That is why you should strongly consider working with an experienced attorney.
Call Us Today to Discuss Your Claim
Our lawyers have over 50 years of combined experience helping injury victims recover maximum compensation by negotiating with insurance companies. Our attorneys are also prepared to fight hard on your behalf in the courtroom when necessary.
We do not charge you any upfront or hourly fees. We only get paid if you do.
Call (817) 920-9000 to schedule a free consultation.