Understanding Hospital Liens
Written by greg on January 25, 2014
For better or worse, Texas has granted two hospitals a super lien that attaches to the following:
1. Damages actions from a personal injury claim when the person received treatment at the hospital.
2. A judgment relating to damages from an injury for which the hospital treated, and
3. Settlement proceeds from an injury claim where the injured party sought treatment from the hospital after the accident.
For a hospital lien to attach to the proceeds of any personal injury claim, the injury victim must have sought medical treatment at the hospital within 72 hours of the accident. If the injured person sought medical treatment within the first 72 hours, subsequent treatment by the hospital is covered under the lien.
If an injured party is transferred to a new hospital, and the original hospital’s treatment was covered under the lien statute, the subsequent hospital should also be covered.
Hospitals are required to file written notice of the lien and in today’s environment on almost every accident case you can imagine the hospital does in fact file a lien. The lien should be filed before funds have been actually paid to the injured party.
The Hospital Lien statue is set forth in Texas Property Code Section 55.
Plaintiff attorneys find dealing with a hospital on a lien a very frustrating experience and in some cases actually dropped the case because they are unable to reach an acceptable deal with the hospital regarding settlement of the lien.
Another issue arises when the hospital bills that maximum retail rates which can be 2 to 3 times what a health insurance company would pay, thus overcharging an uninsured personal injury victim who happens to be seriously injured in an accident that is covered by insurance.
There’s little doubt that some changes are necessary to the hospital lien statute to give victims a real remedy when a hospital overcharges for services.