Hospital Liens in Automobile Injury Cases or Claims

If you are in Texas, and have received notice of a "hospital lien" due to your automobile collision, we can help.  Contact us for a free initial telephone consultation.  In many cases there may be no up-front charge to start working on your hospital lien.  We will need to discuss your case to see if you qualify.  

Often, if you were involved in an accident, and went to the hospital, you will receive a notice of a hospital lien in the mail that says the hospital has a lien against you and/or any claims you have.  What does this mean?  What can you do to get this removed or taken care of?  

If your hospital lien is in Texas, the easiest route is to call us for a free initial consultation (972) 599 4100.  We will likely be able to answer your questions regarding the hospital lien, and place you on the right path towards resolving the lien, you may or may not need an attorney to resolve it.  Call and we can help you with your decision regarding what you need to do.   

Topics of Interest:
Attorney's Fee in injury cases
Settling Injury Claims
Adjuster is Delaying Payment and "Investigating" Claim
Medical Care After an Accident
Notice of Hospital Lien Against Case
Should I Use My Health Insurance After an Accident?
Multiple Car Accidents and Injuries
What You Can Recover in Injury Cases

Questions and Answers:

Typically, most people have the following questions once they have a hospital lien filed against them for their auto accident or car crash and injury case:  

1.  How does the hospital lien affect me? 

The fact that you received a hospital lien means the hospital is claiming you owe the hospital money for your visit.  You will want to consult an attorney to see if this can be resolved.  "Hospital liens" are typically filed against people who have been injured in automobile accident. 

2.  What can I do about the hospital lien?

If your hospital lien is the result of being involved in an automobile accident and your injury is due to that accident, it is possible that you may qualify to remove the lien with no money out of your pocket.  The lien may or may not be valid.  You need an experience lawyer to look at it to verify its validity.

3.  What is a hospital lien?  

In 1933, the Texas legislature passed the "Hospital Lien Statute".   This statute was designed to relieve hospitals of financial burdens in providing care to victims of accidents. This statute is in Chapter 55 of the Texas Property Code. The hospital lien attaches to the claim or lawsuit you may have from your automobile accident if you were admitted to a hospital within 72 hours of the accident and injury that caused you to seek treatment; see Sec. 55.003. In order to be effective, and to attach, the hospital is required to file the lien with the county clerk before payment of the settlement; Sec. 55.005.

The lien will also cover any hospital you are transferred to and extends to follow-up hospitalizations if the first admission occurred within 72 hours of the injury; see Sec. 55.002 and Baylor University Medical Center v. Travelers Ins. Co., 587 S.W.2d 501 (Tex. Civ. App. 1979 writ ref. n.r.e.)

So in plain language, the hospital places a lien on your injury case or injury claim.  It means the hospital is claiming that you owe the hospital for the bills.  It also means that they are placing the auto insurance company on notice that they must include the hospital's name on any settlement checks in order to cover the lien.  If they don't, then the hospital can come back later against the auto insurance company to get paid again. 

4.  Why didn't the hospital bill my health insurance instead of filing a hospital lien against me?

Good question!  The hospital is hoping they will get more money out of the automobile insurance than they will get out of your health insurance.  Health insurance companies negotiate reduced rates, automobile insurers do not.  The problem is that if the hospital does this, it usually means less money for you (as the hospital is taking more money out of the claim - which is often money that should go to you - especially if they would have just used your health insurance).

Hospitals often bill several times as much as the service is actually worth.  There are multiple theories on why this is done, reasons are:

a)  No matter what they bill, the health insurance is going to cut their bill, so they need to bill higher so when the bill gets cut, they get closer to what the service is actually worth;
b) When bills go unpaid, they can claim the larger "billed" amount as a loss when they file their taxes - even though they know that there is almost no way they would actually get the amount they wrote in the bill if an insurance company was there to pay the bill - so it increases the amount they can claim for a tax write off;
c)  If the injured party gets a settlement, then the hospital can force the injured person through their hospital lien to pay the higher and unreasonable price.

If there is a large settlement amount, the hospital may be able to squeeze out more money from you through your settlement, by hijacking your settlement negotiations, and forcing you (the injured person) to pay their extortion amount before you can get reimbursed for your own out of pocket expenses you incurred due to the injury (lost wages, other medical expenses, deductibles, copays, etc).  Often this means they take the money from the auto insurance policy that you need to cover your losses.  This is the reason an attorney needs to get on top of your case immediately.  You need to hire an attorney who can advise you the best route to ensure you recover the proceeds that are needed for your losses - not to pay a hospital's inflated bill. 

5.  Why didn't the hospital bill the other driver's insurance instead of filing a hospital lien against me?

Unfortunately personal injury claims don't work that way.  Our law office can guide the case through the process to ensure the claim is handled in a way where the lien is removed.   

You will not know the full extent of all your bills early on in the case.  If you agree to settle early on, you will short-change yourself with regard to your hospital bills and liens.  You will end up holding the bill on a case that should have been paid by insurance company of the person who caused the accident.  If you try to settle your case on your own early on, and you have a hospital lien, you will likely be in for a shock as other bills related to your hospital visit trickle in after you have already signed away your rights on your case by trying to settle early on your own.  You would not try to fly an airplane if you were not properly trained.  Do not try to handle an automobile injury claim with hospital liens involved without a lawyer experienced in handling injury cases. 

6.  What do I need to do to get this hospital lien taken care of?

Hire a personal injury attorney experience in handling hospital liens.  You do not want to be stuck owing the hospital, ER doctors, ER radiology department, or other hospital related charges after your case is settled.  You also don't want to be blind-sided after you agree to settle with the insurance company - by the adjuster telling you "oh, by the way, all that money you signed that release for, all that money has to go to the hospital now - none goes to you . . . because the bills were higher than you realized."  . . . Don't let this happen to you, let an experienced lawyer handle your case so you don't end up having no money left over to pay for what you are out of pocket due to the hospital lien being handled incorrectly.