Hospital Liens: How Emergency Treaters Get Paid Out of Personal Injury Damages
After a car accident or other incident that results in serious injuries, victims almost always require some immediate, emergency medical care. When someone in distress needs treatment now in order to survive, they can’t think about how they are going to pay for that treatment. And if you’ve been seriously injured, you don’t want the ER doctors focusing on how or whether they will get paid for saving your life. That is why Texas law provides a mechanism for hospitals and other emergency service providers to get paid from any amounts recovered in a personal injury lawsuit. These are called hospital liens.
The Hospital Gets a Cut of Your Judgment or Settlement
In Texas, a hospital has a lien (a right to payment) “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.” Tex. Prop. Code Ann § 55.002 (a). The lien allows a hospital which treated the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit to recoup its costs out of:
- a cause of action for damages arising from an injury for which the injured individual is admitted to the hospital or receives emergency medical services;
- a judgment of a court or a decision of a public agency in a proceeding to recover damages arising from the injury, and
- the proceeds of a settlement of a cause of action or claim arising from the injury.
Tex. Prop. Code Ann § 55.003
In order for the lien to attach, the individual must be admitted to a hospital not later than 72 hours after the accident, and the lien extends to both the admitting hospital and any hospital to which the individual is transferred for treatment of the same injury. The hospital must provide written notice of its lien to the injury victim as well as the county clerk of the county where the services were provided.
The practical effect of the lien is that when a settlement check is received or a judgment is paid, the hospital which has claimed a lien needs to get its cut before the injury victim can get theirs. If a hospital is not paid and funds are disbursed to the injured party, the hospital can file suit for the amount of the lien against the party (e.g., the defendant’s insurance company) who made the payment.
What The Hospital Can Recover
The amounts that a hospital can claim are due in its lien include:
- the amount of the hospital’s charges for services provided to the injured individual during the first 100 days of the injured individual’s hospitalization, and
- the amount of a physician’s reasonable and necessary charges for emergency hospital care services provided to the injured individual during the first seven days of the injured individual’s hospitalization.
Tex. Prop. Code Ann § 55.004(b),(c)
This can be a huge amount of money taken out of your recovery. But if the hospital claims that it is due payment beyond what the law allows, a skilled personal injury lawyer may be able to attack the validity of some of those amounts so that you receive the maximum amount of compensation available.
At Greening Law, P.C., we provide aggressive, compassionate and experienced representation for personal injury victims in Dallas and throughout Texas. Please give us a call at (972) 934-8900 or fill out our online form to arrange for your free initial consultation.