Medical bills are one of the central claims filed in virtually any Fort Myers personal injury lawsuit. But if you don’t have health insurance (or enough health insurance) while your personal injury claim is pending, you could well find yourself with something called a hospital lien.
As our Southwest Florida personal injury lawyers can explain, a hospital lien – sometimes called a medical lien – is basically when a healthcare provider is granted payment rights for services rendered to a patient with a pending personal injury case. This seems fair enough: You get treatment at the hospital after a car accident, file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver, and providers are ultimately paid from the amount collected in that case. (You likely even signed discharge paperwork granting them permission to send in a claim against any court-awarded costs to pay medical debts related to your treatment.)
Where it can get a bit dicey is in determinations about how much is “reasonable.” Healthcare providers may have one idea about what’s “reasonable,” and the auto insurer(s) involved may have quite another. It’s a major issue because, in the Sunshine State, hospital liens are often given priority over any and all other recoverable damages – including lost wages, pain, and suffering, etc. That means they may argue that they are first in line when it comes to getting paid.
Who can you trust to advocate for you during these negotiations? Your Fort Myers personal injury lawyer’s at Garvin Injury Law. Not only do we understand what is considered reasonable for services rendered, we know what insurers are likely to agree on and whether the injured party may face challenges in actually collecting that sum. We’re also skilled in negotiating with hospitals and other healthcare providers on this front.
Also worth noting: Florida does it a bit differently than other states. While most other places have a single hospital lien statute, Florida allows each county to enact its own hospital lien statutes. (The state used to have a single health care lien law, but it was deemed unconstitutional in the 2012 Florida Supreme Court ruling in Shands Teaching Hosp. & Clinics, Inc. v. Mercury Ins. Co. of Fla.) What this ultimately means is there can be a big difference between when you might expect in Monroe County or Collier County versus what you might expect in Lee County or Sarasota County. Some counties don’t allow medical liens at all, while some do require they be filed in short order. Continue reading