Hospitals in Texas and Oklahoma are required to provide treatment to those who are in need, such as those who are in motor vehicle accidents. The states protect these hospitals and other medical providers by allowing them to file a medical lien for the bills that are incurred from that treatment.
Understanding Hospital Liens in Wichita Falls, Texas, and Oklahoma
Some state laws permit medical providers to establish liens, which are legal claims for reimbursement, on settlements on personal injury claims. When you receive a hospital lien on your personal injury claim in Wichita Falls, the lien is a claim to be reimbursed for your medical bills from your personal injury settlement. The medical liens should only be for those that were incurred in connection with the treatment of injuries you sustained from your accident.
Subrogation is the process of lien holders seeking reimbursement for those liens. It’s vital that you know and understand this because even if there is not a lien, your medical providers may still attempt to collect any debts that are owed to them when your lawsuit is finalized. However, with a lien, those providers hold more legal rights and establish priority in payment because the law surrounding liens requires your liens to be satisfied when your accident and injury claim is settled.
To be enforceable, medical liens must comply with state laws. Texas medical liens are governed by Chapter 55 of the Texas Property Code and Oklahoma medical liens are governed by Oklahoma Statutes, Title 42, both briefly outlines below.
Texas Hospital Liens
In Texas, for a hospital to be able to file a lien on a cause of action, you must have received treatment in the first 72 hours following an injury. And if your treatment requires services at another hospital, the law allows an extension of the lien. Texas law sets forth specific procedures for hospitals to follow when attempting to secure a lien. For a lien to be valid and enforceable, the hospital must send notice to the injured party that includes the injured person’s name and address, the name and location of the hospital and the date of the accident. This lien must be filed with the county clerk in the county where the hospital services were provided and it must be filed before any money is rewarded to the injured party. When the hospital or medical provider received notice back from the county clerk that the lien has been filed, they have five business days to send written notice to the injured party or the injured party’s representative by regular mail to the last known address.
If these rules are followed, the lien is generally considered valid but if they are not, the validity of the lien could be questioned.
Oklahoma Medical Liens
In Oklahoma, for a medical lien to be effective, they must send written notice to the county with the itemized statement of the amount that is being claimed and identify what insurance policy the lien should be asserted against (if any) as well as the name and address of the physician, the injured person, and the person who the claim is being made against in the county where the office of the physician is located. Then, the physician must send via registered or certified mail, a copy of such notice to the person against whom the claim is being made as well as to the injured party. The physician should also send notice to the attorney of the injured party.
Medicare, Medicaid & ERISA
On top of liens from medical providers, there are other liens that may apply to your claim and could affect your compensation such as Medicare, Medicaid, ERISA, which is certain employer-sponsored health insurance), among others. Liens can be a burden and they can be complicated. An experienced personal injury attorney can help with this burden by negotiating and reducing the amounts. And failure to pay these liens could result in more legal issues. Because of this, it’s important to address these issues early on.
Contact an Experienced Wichita Falls Personal Injury Law Firm
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident that involves any liens, it would be in your best interest to get advice from an experienced accident and injury lawyer. We can give you a free evaluation of your case and guide you on how to proceed. You can set up a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation by calling us at 940-569-4000 or filling out our contact form.
If you still have questions about your personal injury claim, download the free PDF of our book, The Traveler’s Guide to the Universe of Personal Injury. It will provide insight into the world of personal injury. Whatever you choose to do, it’s important that you take action immediately to protect your legal rights.