Posted On July 15, 2016 In Personal Injury
Hospital and emergency services liens, covered under Texas Property Code Ch. 55, allow hospitals and emergency services to seek reimbursement for providing care to people injured in accidents by the negligence of other parties. What are these liens?
The Texas Legislature passed the Hospital Lien Statute in 1933 to allow injured parties to receive treatment, but also to ensure that hospitals are reimbursed for the cost of rendering care. In 2003, the Hospital Lien Statute was amended to include emergency services, such as ambulances. How does this statute work?
For example, if an injured person were hospitalized for two days following a car accident due to a distracted driver, the hospital and emergency service providers could attach a lien to any future judgments or settlements to recover costs of care. In other words, the hospital or emergency service provider must be paid in full from any settlement proceeds before any of settlement funds can be applied to the victim’s other damages, such as lost wages or ongoing medical treatment.
Even if you have health insurance, many hospitals will refuse to bill your health insurance after an accident and instead file a lien for the full list price of the services, rather than the lesser amount your health insurance would have allowed for the same services. The hospitals do this to increase their profits; however, it leaves fewer settlement funds to pay for your other damages.
There are some circumstances where these liens are not valid.
Hospital and emergency services liens have time limits in Texas: Hospital and emergency services liens are only valid if an injured party is treated within 72 hours following an accident, and only for the first 100 days after an accident. This means that any costs incurred after the 100-day mark or after 72 hours following the accident would not be subject to a hospital and emergency services lien.
Hospital and emergency services liens must be filed correctly: To seek reimbursement, hospitals or emergency service providers must file notices of liens in the county where the services were rendered. Hospital and emergency service liens should contain the correct names and addresses of injured parties, the name of the responsible party (or their insurance carrier), and the date that services were provided. If hospitals or emergency service providers fail to name the correct parties or date of service, the liens may not be valid.
A skilled attorney can use itemized billing or other methods to determine if patients have been overcharged and can negotiate the cost of service with hospitals. Taking such action can reduce the costs of liens placed on settlements or judgments.
The personal injury attorneys at Mike Love & Associates, LLC have a proven record of helping individuals and families hurt by the negligence of others.