After you have been injured in an accident you may require treatment at a hospital on an emergency basis. But did you know that the hospital could have a lien against your claim against the responsible party to secure payment for its services. In Texas, this is what is known as a Hospital Lien. Knowing you rights with respect to Hospital Liens is critical in getting the full value of your settlement.
Hospital Liens are permitted by Chapter 55 of the Texas Property Code. A hospital has 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. For the lien to attach, the individual must be admitted to the hospital not later than 72 hours after the accident. The lien extends to both the admitting hospital and any hospital to which the individual is transferred for treatment of the same injury.
A Hospital Lien attaches to:
- 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 the decision of a public agency in a proceeding brought by the injured individual or by another person entitled to bring the suit in case of the death of the individual to recover damages arising from an injury for which the injured individual is admitted to the hospital or receives emergency medical services; and
- the proceeds of a settlement of a cause of action or a claim by the injured individual or another person entitled to make the claim, arising from an injury for which the injured individual is admitted to the hospital or receives emergency medical services.
A hospital lien is limited to the amount of the hospital’s charges for services provided to the injured individual during the first 100 days after the injured individual’s hospitalization and may also include 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. At the request of the physician, the hospital may act on the physician’s behalf in securing and discharging the lien.
To secure the lien, the hospital must file written notice of the lien with the county clerk of the county in which the services were provided. The notice must be filed before money is paid to an entitled person because of the injury. The notice must contain:
- the injured individual’s name and address;
- the date of the accident;
- the name and location of the hospital or claiming the lien; and
- the name of the person alleged to be liable for damages arising from the injury, if known.
If you settle your case you need to be aware that a settlement and release of a cause of action to which the Hospital Lien attaches is not valid unless the charges of the hospital claiming the lien were paid in full by the patient or the responsible party before the execution and delivery of the release or the hospital claiming the lien is a party to the settlement.
If you have to go to court, a judgment to which a Hospital Lien has attached remains in effect until the charges of the hospital claiming the lien are paid in full or paid to the extent required in the judgment.
At the Law Office of Stephen O’Rear, P.C. we help injured Texans deal with the many intricacies involved in asserting a claim for personal injury.