I Have Health Insurance: Why is the Hospital Going After My Accident Settlement?

If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident in the recent past that was the fault of somebody else, and you were treated in a hospital anywhere in Texas for your injuries, that hospital is likely to mail notice of a lien to you. Then, it will file the lien with the county clerk where services were provided. Although it’s not required by law, a file stamped copy of the lien will probably be mailed to your attorney. Regardless of whether you have health insurance or not, that’s all done for purposes securing payment of your hospital bill. After that, any check pursuant to a settlement or verdict will include that hospital as a payee along with you and your attorney.

Health insurance but hospital is going after my settlement

The Texas Property Code

Pursuant to Section 55.002 of the Texas Property Code, hospitals have a lien “on a cause of action or claim of an individual who receives hospital services for injuries caused by an accident that is attributed to the negligence of another person.” In order to establish a basis for the lien, a person need only be admitted to the hospital no later than 72 hours after the accident. If the person is transferred to another hospital for treatment in connection with the same injury, that other hospital can claim rights pursuant to the original lien.

Emergency Medical Providers

Even an emergency medical services provider can claim a lien on personal injury proceeds, so long as the county in which the lien is claimed has a population of 800,000 people or less. The same 72 hour rule applies, but the lien claimed cannot exceed $1,000.

Emergency Room Physicians

Many emergency room physicians are independent contractors as opposed to actual hospital employees. That emergency room doctor or the entity that he or she works for can also claim a lien against settlement or verdict proceeds, but it’s required to be attached to the hospital lien.

Required Lien Information

Regardless of whether a lien is claimed by a hospital, an emergency medical services provider or an emergency room physician, it need only state the name and address of the patient along with the date of accident. If known, it must also set forth the name and address of the person who caused the accident and the name and address of the hospital.

The Legal Effect of the Lien

Texas law affords a lien claimant considerable protection after a lien has been properly drafted, mailed and filed. That’s when the lien claimant’s interests becomes dominant over those of a patient’s. What that means is that if there is a settlement or verdict, any lien claimants get paid first.

Negotiating a Lien

Sometimes there just isn’t enough liability insurance from an auto accident to sufficiently compensate the victim. It’s not unusual for an auto accident attorney to try and negotiate a lien to a lesser amount in order to maximize the client’s net proceeds from a settlement or verdict.

When These Liens Are Not Permitted

As per the Insurance Information Institute, at least 13 percent of all Texas drivers are uninsured. Many others are riding on minimum liability insurance. If you’re making an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim against your own insurer, Texas law doesn’t allow a hospital lien to attach. The same rule applies to personal injury protection and medical payments coverage.

You’ll want experienced and effective personal injury attorneys representing you after being injured in an auto accident that was caused by somebody else. Call our law offices today at any of our convenient locations, and get a free consultation.

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Call our law offices today at any of our convenient locations and get a free consultation.

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