Insurance And Hospital Liens

One of the issues Arlington insurance lawyers have to deal with is hospital liens.
Texas public policy strongly supports hospital liens, and it is important to understand that these liens aren’t just applicable to hospitals; they also operate in the benefit of EMS providers and doctors at teaching hospitals whose bills are not already included in the hospital bill. The right of hospitals and certain other medical providers to be paid from settlement proceeds or a judgment begins with the Hospital Lien Statute, found in Chapter 55 of the Texas Property Code. It olds, in pertinent part, that a lien attaches to “any cause of action, judgment or settlement” received as a result of an accident for which the person was admitted to a hospital within 72 hours of the injury, as well as any hospital to which the injured party subsequently transferred for the same injuries. This is found in at Section 55.002(a),(b). These liens must be filed prior to settlement in order to be valid, and hospital liens are limited to “reasonable and regular” charges within the first 100 days following the injury. Even the attorney representing the injured party may have to wrestle with the hospital for first priority, according to the 1985, Texas Supreme Court case styled, Bashara v. Baptist Memorial Hospital System.
The intent of the Hospital Lien statute was to save lives, by “…inducing hospitals to receive a patient, injured by the negligence of others, by giving the hospital a lien on the claims, suit or settlement of the patient.” This is cited in the 1979, Dallas Court of Appeals opinion styled, Baylor University Medical Center v. Travelers.
The Texas Supreme Court has held that a hospital lien does no attach to uninsured/underinsured motorists benefits, pursuant to the language in the statute which states that it does not apply to “the proceeds of an insurance policy in favor of the injured individual …”. The Texas Supreme Court was applying Section 55.003(b)(3) when it wrote this in the 1984 case, Members Mutual Insurance Co. v. Hermann Hospital.
The Fort Worth Court of Appeals has held that hospital liens do not attach in wrongful death cases in the 1984 opinion styled, Tarrant County Hospital District v. Jones.
There are a couple of excellent resources for learning more about hospital liens. One is titled, Ten Basic Facts to Know — The Texas Hospital Lien Statute, published in the 1998 Texas Bar Journal and the second is titled, Negotiating the Hospital Lien Minefield, published in the 2005 Texas Bar Journal.

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