What It Means When a Hospital Files a Lien in Your Injury Case

When a person sustains an injury and is in the midst of a medical emergency, the most important thing that needs to occur is to get them to a hospital as soon as possible. When a person arrives at the emergency room due to a medical emergency, there is not going to be any time to check their insurance to see if they will be able to pay for the care they need. State law requires that hospitals provide treatment to anyone in need of emergency medical attention. However, that leaves a major question unanswered – what happens when a person receives medical care that they are not insured for and are not able to pay on their own? What may occur in these cases is a medical lien placed on the person by the hospital itself.

What is a hospital lien?

Liens are in place to allow for hospitals that provide emergency care to uninsured patients to claim a portion of any award settlement the patients receive as a result of the accident that caused their injuries. Hospital lien laws vary by state, but here are a few takeaways from the Oregon hospital lien law:

  • The hospital must file a notice of lien in the same form prescribed in ORS 87.570 (form of notice) no later than 30 days after the discharge of the patient. This notice must contain the amount claimed on the lien and must be filed with the recording officer of the county where the hospital is located.
  • Prior to the date of judgment, award, or settlement, the hospital must serve a certified copy of the notice of lien through registered or certified mail to the person allegedly responsible for causing the injury as well as from the person whom the damages may be claimed. This notice of lien may also be delivered to the insurance carrier of the person alleged to be responsible for the incident.

Are liens difficult to resolve in an Oregon personal injury case?

At the end of the day, every party involved in an injury case, including the hospital that treated the injuries, is looking at the money. Hospitals know that if they go through an insurance carrier to receive compensation for the treatment they provided, they will likely end up with less money than if they go after an eventual settlement or judgment amount. That is because, when dealing with insurance carriers, hospitals are usually obliged to receive a contractual rate for their services. However, with a hospital lien, the hospital may end up receiving the full amount of their original bill on a settlement. As most people understand, total hospital charges tend to be incredibly high.

If you or somebody you care about has received notice that there is a hospital lien in your injury case, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. A personal injury lawyer in Portland is going to make sure that the hospital does not take advantage of you in terms of how much is attached to your injury costs. Yes, hospitals should be compensated for the treatment they render, but this should not come at the expense of your overall financial well-being in your injury case.