What You Need to Know About Hospital Liens, Property, and Personal Injury Claims.
Emergencies happen, whether you have health insurance or not. When a medical emergency happens, seeking medical attention becomes a necessity.
While an emergency room cannot deny you medical services if you do not have insurance or cannot cover the cost, they do retain the right to bill you for services rendered. In this situation, the hospital may issue a hospital lien.
Our experienced McAllen bad faith insurance attorneys at Millin & Millin want to shed a little light on what this process is and what rights you have.
What Is a Hospital Lien?
Under Texas law, a hospital lien can be issued by a medical care provider when a victim injured by a negligent third-party receives emergency treatment but cannot pay their medical bill because:
- They do not have health insurance.
- Their health insurance provider only paid a portion of what was due.
- A third-party refused to make a payment to your health insurance provider.
The hospital would generally request payment of these medical bills from any compensation recovered from a negligent third-party by the victim.
How a Hospital Lien Works
In accordance with Texas Penal Code 55.002(a), if a hospital treats someone that was injured by a negligent third party and who cannot pay their bills, they are granted the ability to issue out a lien against “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.”
Essentially, the lien is attached to a personal injury claim from the person treated by the hospital for emergency medical care within a 72-hour period after the injury occurred. To put it into context, emergency medical services are defined as services used to treat an individual’s perceived need for “immediate medical care and to prevent death or aggravation of physiological or psychological illness or injury.”
After that time period, the lien must be “perfected.” What this means is that a written notice is sent out by the lien holder (in some cases, the hospital) to the patient, the patient’s lawyer, and to the county clerk.
The lien must be paid before any payoff to the injured party takes place.
Be Cautious of Hospital Liens
While all of this seems like a minimal risk to the victim of a personal injury, there have been instances where lien holders have placed liens on a residential property owned by the injured parties.
Typically, this happens when injured parties go to a hospital where they believe their health insurance is accepted. If care is rendered but the insurance does not fully cover the costs associated with the treatment, then a hospital lien may be placed on the home.
It may be likely that the injured party won’t find out until weeks to months later. When this occurs you may not be able to sell, refinance, or transfer your home title until you pay your debt. In situations where you suffered a serious injury or were receiving treatment for a life-threatening illness, these costs can be substantially high.
Knowing Your Rights
The state of Texas has a number of laws that restrict the use of liens to force individuals to pay off medical debt. While your debt must still be paid, the Texas homestead exemption rule prevents the forced sale of your home.
If you choose not to, the hospital may have four years from the date when services were rendered to sue you in an effort to collect what is owed.
Do you need legal representation to help you with your insurance claim? The bad faith insurance attorneys of Millin & Millin are here to help.
With the chaos that comes after a personal injury, getting everything sorted out—both in private and in legal terms—can be an overwhelming task. But, thankfully, you do not have to do alone.
Reach out to the McAllen insurance attorneys that have years of experience. Reach out to Millin & Millin.
Contact us today at (956) 631-5600 to set up your free legal consultation.