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The aftermath of an auto accident is often disorienting and chaotic. As you assess yourself and others at the scene for injuries requiring immediate medical attention, you may wonder how this incident will impact your immediate and long-term future. The financial ramifications of a car accident can be complex and challenging to navigate, especially if you are unsure of how to seek the compensation you need to support your recovery. In Texas, hospitals are required to provide medical treatment to every patient, regardless of their ability to pay for these treatments. If you suffered severe injuries at the hands of a negligent or reckless driver, you might have traveled via ambulance to receive medical care at the nearest hospital. The hospital can then file a personal injury lien (also called a hospital lien) to recover compensation for the medical bills you cannot pay. This post will explore how hospital liens work in Texas and what you can do if you receive a notice of a hospital lien in the mail.
Chapter 55, Section 55.002 of the Texas Property Code states, “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.” The statute proceeds to clarify that the lien is valid only if “the individual [is] admitted to a hospital not later than 72 hours after the accident.” If you received emergency medical care for an injury due to another driver’s reckless or negligent actions and you file a lawsuit against the at-fault party, the hospital has the right to obtain payment from the settlement you obtain. For instance, if you secure thousands of dollars in a personal injury settlement, a portion of this amount will go toward the hospital or medical provider before the remaining funds are passed along to you.
Although the hospital liens process may seem straightforward at first glance, several issues can arise and cause problems for the injured accident victim. Many hospitals assume that they can use the liens process to secure compensation, so they don’t even bother submitting bills to the patient’s insurance company. Additionally, hospitals recognize that many health insurers will not cover emergency medical treatment because the negligent party likely has auto insurance, so they increase the charges for the treatments—meaning victims often obtain substantially less compensation than they were expecting.
Another common issue accident victims may encounter is a considerable delay in the settlement timeline. Since most insurance will not pay out settlements until they are confident that all liens have been satisfied, it can take a considerable amount of time for you to recover the compensation you need to start paying back the medical costs associated with the accident. You may find yourself facing high levels of stress and frustration in your inability to pay down these outstanding debts more quickly.
Coping with your physical recovery after an auto accident is stressful enough. However, if your case involves a hospital lien, you may find yourself experiencing additional frustration and confusion over this unexpected complication. Before you give in to feelings of hopelessness, remember that you do not have to go through this difficult process alone. Working with a trusted and experienced personal injury attorney is the best way to ensure you obtain the most favorable outcome possible. Below are just a few ways that your personal injury lawyer can help you move through the claims and liens process.
There are several steps that the provider of emergency medical services must follow when notifying a victim of a hospital lien. The provider must file the lien with the appropriate county clerk and send an official notice to the injured victim and the at-fault party. Your attorney can review your case to determine whether the hospital followed all the requirements; failure to comply with the protocol may invalidate the lien.
Under Texas laws, a hospital lien may only apply to the first 100 days of hospitalization. Additionally, the lien only pertains to charges that do not “exceed a reasonable and regular rate for these services.” Your attorney can review the costs and assess whether the hospital violated these guidelines.
When you work with a skilled personal injury lawyer, you can trust that they will advocate aggressively on your behalf. Their goal is to secure the compensation you need to support your recovery and get your life back on track. They will negotiate with the provider and other involved parties to obtain a favorable outcome.
If you need help filing a personal injury claim in the Houston area, contact DeHoyos Accident Attorneys, PLLC, today at (832) 745-4878 to speak with a trusted and caring attorney.
EXCERPT: Although the hospital liens process may seem straightforward at first glance, several issues can arise and cause problems for the injured accident victim. Discuss your case with a dedicated Houston personal injury attorney today.
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