In Texas, if you are the victim of a personal injury accident, you may be able to obtain compensation for damages, including medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages. But even before recovering any damages in a personal injury lawsuit or settlement, Texas law allows hospitals to place a lien on that recovery.
What is a Texas Hospital Lien?
If you are injured due to the negligence of another and your injuries require medical treatment, Texas law allows hospitals and emergency providers to collect money from any compensation recovered in a lawsuit or settlement. Hospital liens apply primarily to emergency care following an accident. As such, the victim must be admitted within 72 hours of the accident in order for the hospital lien to apply. However, if the patient is later transferred to another hospital for ongoing treatment, the same lien will carry over.
Generally speaking, for a Texas hospital lien to apply, the following criteria must be met:
- The accident that caused the patient’s injuries must have been a result of negligence.
- The patient must be admitted to the hospital for treatment within 72 hours of the incident.
- In the case of a provider of emergency medical services, the patient must receive treatment in a county with a population of no greater than 800,000.
On the surface, it may not seem like such a bad deal—you get the emergency medical treatment you need, and the providers get reimbursed from your recovery award, if and when that occurs. But hospital liens are not as straightforward as they might seem.
Unfortunately, it has become increasingly common for hospitals to hold off on submitting bills to a patient’s insurer if that patient was injured in a motor vehicle accident. Why would hospitals prevent the guaranteed flow of revenue generated by the insurance company when the legal recovery is not guaranteed? The answer is shockingly simple—hospitals can obtain a substantially higher amount with a lien than from the insurance carrier.
Even worse, when the defendant’s insurance company learns of the lien, it will pay the lien first, before paying the victim’s claim. This can further delay the victim’s ability to obtain compensation for injuries and damages suffered. When we take into account the loss of a job, emotional pain and suffering, and increasing medical costs, this delay can lead to disaster. Fortunately, with the help of an experienced Texas injury lawyer, you can ensure that your rights are protected and damages are recovered in a timely manner.
Making the Texas hospital lien even more unfair to personal injury victims is the hospital’s tendency to charge exorbitant prices for services offered, considerably above what they would normally charge private insurance companies, Medicare, or Medicaid. A skilled League City personal injury attorney can challenge the amount of these lien claims by asking to see records of how the hospital typically charges for similar services.
Caps on Lien Amounts
Fortunately, the statute does impose a cap on the dollar amount of hospital liens. Currently, the cap is the lesser of the cost of services provided in the first 100 days after the accident, or 50 percent of the total recovery. However, with the hospital potentially entitled to 50 percent of the recovery amount, and another percentage going to attorneys’ fees and costs, what might be left for the victim?
And it’s not just hospitals that can claim a portion of a the compensation recovered in a personal injury case. Under Texas law, any health care provider that rendered services to an uninsured patient can claim a portion of the compensation pot through a lien. Insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid can also recover from the lien.
Furthermore, current and future liens need to be satisfied before the victim is able to fully recover damages. It is not uncommon for a portion of a compensation package to be held in trust to cover any future liens. Medicare and Medicaid have six years to file a lien. Once again, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer immediately if you are being subjected to a Texas hospital lien. With the help of a skilled attorney, many liens can be settled through negotiation, reducing the amount distributed to institutional and government claimants.
Contact Burwell Nebout Trial Lawyers
If you are being subjected to a Texas hospital lien, the skilled legal team at Burwell Nebout Trial Lawyers can help. We have been protecting the rights of Texas accident and injury victims for decades, and we are here for you. Don’t go through this stressful, complicated process alone. Contact Burwell Nebout Trial Lawyers today at 281-645-5000 for a free and confidential consultation about your case.