If you’ve been hurt in a car wreck, you will soon be swamped with paperwork and phone calls. Then, one day when you check the mail, you receive a letter saying there is a “hospital lien” involved in your claim. Most people panic…thinking that the hospital is putting a lien on their house. But there is no need to panic.
When you’ve been injured in a wreck in Alabama and get medical treatment at a hospital, the hospital has a right to assert a hospital lien on your personal injury claim. The lien is not against your property. Rather, the lien is against any settlement you may receive in your personal injury claim. Alabama Code Section 35-11-370 states:
Any person, firm, hospital authority, or corporation operating a hospital in this state shall have a lien for all reasonable charges for hospital care, treatment, and maintenance of an injured person who entered such hospital within one week after receiving such injuries, upon any and all actions, claims, counterclaims, and demands accruing to the person to whom such care, treatment, or maintenance was furnished…
Notice that there are only two requirements for the hospital to have this right: (1) that the hospital provided care to you within one week after the wreck; and (2) the hospital bill is reasonable in amount.
But why does the hospital not just send the bill to your health insurance? Generally speaking, health insurance reimbursement rates are less than the amount the hospital can collect from your personal injury settlement. Therefore, the reason you are being notified of a hospital lien is because the hospital wants to collect more money than it could from your health insurance.
The attorneys at Siniard Law have handled over one thousand car accident cases that involved hospital liens. In the vast majority of those cases, we have been able to negotiate with the hospital to accept less than the full amount of the lien. If we are able to do so, that allows you to receive more of the settlement amount.
If you have been notified of a hospital lien and have questions, please contact us for a free consultation.