TEXAS HOSPITAL LIENS: ARE THEY VALID OR FRAUDULENT?September 21, 2016
Texas Hospitals are able to claim a lien on your lawsuit if you are injured in an accident by the negligence of a third party. When you recover from the third party, the hospital that treated you has first rights to the proceeds and is entitled to recover the amount of their outstanding bill. However, a hospital cannot assert their lien without falling the law. There are some basic requirements for a hospital lien to be valid and not fraudulent.
For a hospital lien to be valid, the injured individual must be admitted to a hospital within 72 hours after the accident. If the injured party was never admitted to a hospital, then there can be no hospital lien. In order to constitute admission, a doctor must write an order admitting the patient into the hospital. The lien extends to a subsequent hospital if the injured individual is transferred to that hospital for treatment of the same injury.
In addition, hospitals cannot file a valid lien while charging excessive or unreasonable rates. While hospital liens grant hospitals the right of first recovery, the lien does not cover charges that exceed a reasonable and regular rate. The reasonable and regular rate is determined by looking at what other hospitals in the same geographical area charge and/or accept for the services rendered. If similar hospitals in the same location are significantly less than the treating hospital, the lien is likely excessive and fraudulent. Additionally, a hospital cannot charge other patients less for the same procedure. If a hospital charges a party injured in a motor vehicle more than a typical patient, the lien can be invalidated.
The hospital lien statute was designed to shield hospitals from nonpayment and lessen medical costs, not as an avenue to increase profits by praying on the injured and vulnerable. In summation, without a doctor’s order admitting a patient, there is no admission. Likewise, if the charges are unreasonable and excessive and not similar to other hospitals in the area, then the lien may also be fraudulent.
If you or a loved one received treatment in an emergency room, were billed excessive charges, and the hospital claimed a lien against you and any legal claim, the lien may not be valid. The Amaro Law Firm has vast experience dealing with fraudulent hospital liens.