You have been injured in an accident in Houston, Texas, and find out the settlement proceeds are covered by a hospital lien- what do you do? Here are 5 things you need to know about going to an emergency room.
What is a Hospital Lien?
Hospitals are given rights under a law in Texas that protects the hospital payment out of personal injury claims.
For better or worse, Texas politicians have granted Texas hospitals a “super lien” that attaches to the following:
- Damage actions from a personal injury claim when the person received treatment at the hospital.
- A judgment relating to damages from an injury for which the hospital treated. and
- Settlement proceeds from an injury claim where the injured party sought treatment from the hospital after the accident.
What are the Requirements for the Lien to Attach to Car Accident Settlements?
For a hospital lien to attach to the proceeds of any personal injury claim like a car accident settlement, the injury victim must have sought medical treatment at the hospital within 72 hours of the accident. Only the first 100 days of hospital treatment are to be covered by the lien.
If you are transferred to a new hospital, and the original hospital’s treatment was under the lien statute, the new hospital should also be entitled to benefit from the lien.
Hospitals are required to file a written notice of the lien, and in today’s environment, on almost every accident you can imagine, the hospital does file a lien. The Hospital lien must be recorded before funds are received by the injured party for the lien to be effective.
Practice tip: Conduct an online search for any liens before you agree to a settlement.
Why Didn’t the Hospital Bill My Health Insurance Company?
Hospitals are now using a trick to increase their bottom line: to refrain from billing the health insurance company after an automobile accident. Hospitals uniformly have rate agreements with the major health insurance companies, which limits the amount they can charge for services.
The honey hole, so to speak, for hospital profitability in personal injury claims. Texas law does not require hospitals to bill the health insurance company, and recent case law has been favorable to the hospitals.
Contact your health insurance company and submit the hospital bills directly to your health insurance company.
What is the Texas Hospital Lien Statute?
Why Didn’t the Hospital Bill the Other Driver’s Insurance?
Hospitals are not required to and do not bill the person that hit you. They will, however, provide a notice of their hospital lien to the insurance company for the other driver if they can. In that case, the settlement proceeds will have the hospital’s name on the check. If you have been hurt in a car accident, the hospital almost always files a lien if another was at fault unless you take charge and use your health insurance.
How to Deal with a Hospital Lien?
The hospital rates can be 2 to 3 times what a health insurance company would pay, thus overcharging an uninsured personal injury victim who happens to be injured in an accident and has no health insurance. Early discussions with the person handling the bill can be helpful.
Attorneys who handle car accident claims frequently deal with hospital liens and are in a much better position to recognize excessive billing. While the hospital lien law gives hospitals super-priority, refusing a settlement without proceeds to the injury victim can be useful in obtaining reductions from the hospital. It is better to have a legal representative handle a hospital lien reduction.
Always attempt to negotiate the lien to a reasonable amount, given available funds.
Do I Need a Texas Personal Injury Lawyer?
The hospital collection departments understand the need for an attorney to help obtain and distribute funds and usually prefer an attorney involved. For this reason, the hospital often will consider the fees as a factor in what the injured will net. Personal injury attorneys can also determine the lien’s validity and compare and argue the billing rates of other providers.
Talking with a personal injury attorney is always a good idea. You may have more money net by letting the attorney do the work.
Are Changes Needed in Texas Regarding Hospital Liens?
Yes, Texas needs changes to the hospital lien law that both protects the hospital for payment and protects Texas families from being gouged for excessive payment. Defendants in personal injury cases usually contest the amounts charged on medical bills even though the treatment was necessary for the victim and the hospital has filed a lien, giving them priority over settlement proceeds. A victim who receives medical services after being transported to a local hospital has no control over the cost of hospital services and is at the mercy of what the hospital services cost.
This situation is patently unfair to Texas families because awards for medical expenses can be limited to reasonable amounts, but the hospitals have liens on the full costs.
Hospital Liens Attach to Any Personal Injury Claim.
In Texas, if you are injured in an accident caused by another and seek medical treatment from the hospital shortly after the incident, the hospital most likely will file a lien. It does not matter what kind of accident, only that the hospital treatment is unpaid and you seek to collect from someone else for your personal injury.
Commonly, we see liens filed after:
Does The Lien Cover Emergency Medical Services?
The Texas hospital lien statute also covers “emergency medical providers, ” which can include ambulances if you were transported by an ambulance in a county in Texas of 800,000 people or less. It looks like the law was intended to cover emergency medical services in smaller population areas.
How Can an Attorney Help with Personal Injury Liens?
An experienced personal injury lawyer can help with hospital liens and other liens on personal injury settlement proceeds by doing the following:
- Determining the validity of the lien.
- Disputing the lien
- Disputing the amount of lien
- Negotiation with the lienholder for a reduction.
Speak with a Texas Personal Injury Lawyer at Baumgartner Law Firm for Help
Contact the personal injury lawyers at Baumgartner Law Firm for a consultation with a Texas personal injury lawyer about any injury accident in Houston– Call 281-587-1111 or fill out the consultation request form.
6711 Cypress Creek Pkwy, Houston, TX, 77069