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What You Need to Know About Hospital Liens

Posted on in Personal Injury

Imagine this: You are severely injured in a car accident, you go to the hospital and undergo countless procedures, therapies, and treatments, you are told that you cannot work in your condition, and so, to cover the cost of your medical and living expenses, you file a personal injury claim. That is pretty standard protocol for car accident victims. What is not standard protocol is for the hospital at which a victim received the treatment to place a lien on the personal injury settlement, and for said hospital to collect on that lien when the money is awarded. Yet, Texas law allows just that.

Texas Hospital Lien Law

According to Sec. 55.002 LEINS, a hospital may place a lien on a cause of action or the claim of an individual who was treated at said hospital for injuries caused by an accident that was caused by a negligent person. However, the statute stipulates that in order for a lien to apply, the person must have sought care within 72 hours of the accident. The lien extends to a hospital or medical facility that the injured party is transferred to for treatment of the same injury.

Why Hospitals Do Not Just Bill Health Insurance Providers

You may be wondering why your hospital does not just bill your medical insurance provider. That is the same question many accident victims have, and it is one that has a very simple yet unsatisfactory answer. Hospitals would rather not bill insurance providers because doing so decreases their bottom line.

Hospitals have rate agreements with insurance providers that place limits on how much they can charge for services. To avoid those limits, they simply opt to forgo payment until a case is settled, at which point, it can collect as much money as it wants. Typically, this is two to three times the amount what the insurance company would pay. For this reason, personal injury claims tend to be the honey hole, so to speak, for hospital profitability.

One might think that state law would protect accident victim's rights and prevent hospitals from extorting personal injury victims. One would be wrong. Recent case law has been in favor of hospitals in regard to liens, a trend that does not appear to be changing anytime soon.

How to Deal With a Hospital Lien

You cannot really afford to forego immediate medical attention directly after an accident, as doing so could put you in danger and make it more difficult for you to recover compensation, so there is no way around the 72-hour limit. While you could submit the hospital bill to your insurance provider yourself, doing so does not necessarily guarantee that the hospital will not fight it. After all, the insurance company does not want to have to pay either, so it may hold out on paying your bill in the hopes that the defendant's insurance party will have to pay it.

The best way to deal with a hospital lien, really, is to work with a Dallas personal injury attorney who has dealt with hospital liens and who recognizes excessive billing. While Texas law is in favor of hospitals, an attorney can play hard with the hospital and refuse any settlement that does not result in at least some proceeds to the victim. The hospital, still needing to get paid, may agree to lower rates and a lien reduction.

If you were injured in a car accident in Dallas and if the hospital at which you were treated has placed a lien on your settlement, reach out to Clark Law Group right away to discuss lien reduction techniques. Call now to schedule your consultation.

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