What happens when a hospital attempts to assert a lien in connection with a personal injury lawsuit? Attorney Alexandra Hamilton explains the consequences of hospital balance billing in her Plaintiff magazine article “The Bizarre World of Hospital Liens Under Parnell, Howell and Dameron.”
Hamilton presents an overview of California’s Hospital Lien Act, which allows hospitals to place a lien on the tortfeasor when the hospital’s “charge rate” and the amount paid by the injured party’s insurance company do not match up. However, the lien can only be placed if the hospital has entered into a contract with the insurance company that preserves its right to balance billing.
Hamilton warns that a hospital lien could impact the injured party’s award of damages. “If the contract allows the lien, negotiate the hospital lien immediately and long before settlement talks,” said Hamilton. “The hospital lien makes the tortfeasor, not the patient, liable for failure to pay. Still, no party should settle without determining the hospital lien issue first.”