When you suffer a serious injury, you are usually treated by medical providers soon after.
Treatment costs money, and in Alabama, there is a specific hospital lien statute that helps hospitals get paid when they provide care to someone injured in an accident.
Alabama lien laws allow hospitals to place a lien on any legal settlement you might reach and for the costs of the medical treatment.
When you suffer an injury, such as a car accident, due to someone else’s negligence, agreeing to a medical lien helps you get the treatment you need while you wait to receive compensation.
Medical liens are a confusing concept, and many have questions about how they affect the legal recovery process.
What Is a Hospital Lien?
A lien gives a creditor an interest in property owned by the debtor until the debt is repaid. Creditors may obtain liens on homes, cars, and even money out of legal settlements.
Hospitals can place a lien on money won by the patient in legal processes. This can include money obtained through either settlement or a court judgment.
A hospital will send a bill following a settlement or a judgment demanding payment to satisfy the lien.
How Does the Alabama Hospital Lien Statute Work?
The Alabama hospital lien statute is Alabama Code § 35-11-370.
This statute allows hospitals to place an automatic lien on judgments or settlement funds collected by an injured person who receives medical treatment within one week of their injury.
The amount of the lien is based on the “reasonable charges” for care the hospital provides to the patient. This amount varies based on the length of care and type of care received by the patient.
For example, a 3-day hospital stay has an average cost of $30,000 nationally.
Hospitals place these liens because they want a share of the money in legal settlements the law entitles them to. From a hospital’s perspective, they have nothing to lose by placing a lien.
Also, they often don’t know if the injured party has health insurance to pay for the care they receive. Liens provide a safety net for the hospital to ensure they receive payment for the services they provide to patients.
Some people who receive treatment genuinely can’t pay their medical bills and the liens hospital’s place on their judgments are mutually beneficial to both parties.
However, in other cases, people who have the full capability of paying off their medical expenses will find medical liens to be nothing but a nuisance.
What Can I Do About a Medical Lien?
If you deal with a personal injury case in Alabama, you almost always have to deal with medical bill liens. Hospitals file liens on your recovery because Alabama statutory law allows them to.
Thankfully there are ways to reduce the amount of money hospitals can win from their liens. This is where a personal injury attorney steps in.
An attorney negotiates on your behalf with the hospital to reach a compromise. Hopefully, this compromise will reduce the amount of money you owe out of your legal settlement.
An attorney uses different tactics when dealing with hospital liens. These could include:
- Checking for money already paid to the hospital;
- Making sure all charges are reasonable and directly related to the injury you suffered;
- Making sure the hospital doesn’t charge for redundant services; and
- Negotiating with the hospital for a lower bill based on permanent disability or financial hardship.
The hospital would rather collect some compensation from you than none. An effective attorney can negotiate the amount of your medical liens to help you keep more of your settlement money in your own pocket.
Reach Out to Fob James Law Firm Today
If you suffer an injury, do not hesitate to reach out to the Fob James Law Firm, LLC.
We have helped our clients recover millions of dollars in compensation in our over 40 years of experience. If you trust us with your claim, we will always be there to hear your concerns day and night 365 days a year.
Our team will be with you every step of the way, and we will fight hard to get you the compensation you need.