What is a Hospital Lien?
Hospital lien laws protect hospitals from treating someone involved in an accident caused by a third party. It is designed to make sure that hospitals get paid for their services.
This statute gives hospitals and emergency service providers a right to claim their services from the money recovered by a personal injury claim against a third party. Please note that a hospital lien is only legal during emergencies where necessary and reasonable care is provided to the injured person.
For instance, if someone is involved in a car accident and is rushed for emergency treatment, the hospital must treat them. They cannot refuse to offer treatment due to a person’s inability to pay in the case where they are indigent or uninsured. Once you are treated, the hospital then files for a hospital lien that compensates them for their services.
Almost all hospitals in Alaska have a billing department in charge of filing hospital liens. This statute is simple but very strict. If the injured person settles their case without acknowledging the hospital lien, the treating hospital can sue them for the charges and demand an attorney fee. However, not every hospital lien claims are valid or successful.
Why Did You Receive a Hospital Lien?
If you find a hospital lien in your mail, don’t panic. It’s likely because you were involved in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence and were treated at the hospital filing the lien. When someone is in a car accident, regardless of the type, and the hospital treating them believes that the accident was caused by someone else, they will file a lien that bars the other person from settling the case with the victim until they are fully paid for their service.
When a hospital files a lien, the County Records department sends the injured person a notice and notifies their lawyer and the insurance company of the defendant to pay the claim or else they will sue them directly.
How Much of My Hospital Lien Has to Be Repaid After My Settlement?
If you settle your personal injury claim before a hospital files for a lien, you may have been paid the full payment. However, it doesn’t cancel out the hospital bill used during your treatment. That means that you will still need to pay for the hospital bills. In that case, you will have to pay the total amount of your treatment.
Note that the hospitals don’t file claims on the medical bills with your health insurance in most cases. Doing so will only cover a fraction of your medical bill. Instead, they will file a lien on your personal injury settlement and attempt to collect 100% of the bill from your injury settlement.
That is why you need the help of a lawyer to negotiate the medical lien on your behalf. We usually are able to negotiate the lien repayment down quite a bit as well.
How Long Until My Lien Expires?
The state of Alaska, under the Property Code 34.35.450. allows hospitals to automatically file a hospital lien against an individual’s claims or cause of action that receives treatment for injuries caused by another person’s negligence. The hospital has 6 months from the day they discharge a patient to file a lien notice. After that, they are not legally permitted to do so.
The lien should include a description of the services offered and the amount the hospital is claiming. Once the 6 months lapse, but before the judgment/settlement date, the person responsible or, if unknown, their insurer needs to be served with the lien notice through certified mail to the last known address.
When a hospital gets paid for the amount claimed in the lien, it has 30 days to prepare and execute a lien’s release. This release is given to the patient. If the lien is delayed and the court finds the reason behind the delay is unjustifiable, the court may order costs and damages to be paid to the patient.
You can contact us if you need further help.