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How to Fight Hospital Liens in Georgia Car Accident Injury Claims

January 14, 2022

The Attorneys at Montlick Injury Attorneys Help Their Clients Fight Back Against Illegal and Unfair Medical Lien Practices in Injury Cases

In the State of Georgia, if someone is injured in an accident, and they receive medical treatment from a hospital, nursing home, physician practice, or traumatic burn care practice, that medical provider could file a medical lien to recover reasonable charges for medical treatment they provided to the injured person. Georgia's "Hospital Lien Statute" O.C.G.A. §44–14-470(B) allows hospitals, nursing homes, physician practices, and traumatic burn care practices to file a lien on a person's personal injury case for reasonable charges for treatment of an injured person.  

It is important to understand that a hospital lien (or a medical lien) is not a lien against your home or your property. However, a hospital lien does attach to the underlying personal injury claim that gave rise to the treatment. In other words, a medical lien is only a lien against the claim arising out of the car accident, trucking accident, slip and fall, or other types of personal injury claims.  

Why Does It Matter That The Accident Victim Fights a Hospital Lien?

Medical or hospital liens matter to injury victims because if a lien is filed against a personal injury case, that means the lien must be paid out of any personal injury settlement before disbursing a claimants settlement proceeds to them.

There are several ways to attack a medical or hospital lien. The circumstances vary depending on the case and facts. For instance, in Georgia, in order for a hospital to be perfected, the hospital or its attorney must send "Notice" to the interested parties at least 15 days prior to filing the lien in the county where patient lives as well as where the treatment occurred. The hospital or its attorney must include, in the "Notice," that the lien is not against the patient or the property of a patient. The "Notice" must state that the lien is not evidence of the patient's failure to pay the debt. The "Notice" must be sent by first-class mail, have a certified return receipt delivery, and must be filed within 75 days after the patient has been released. The physician's practice statement must be filed within 90 days after the patient sought treatment. So if it is just a physician's practice statement, then the practice's "Notice" must be filed within 90 days of treatment or discharge, and if it's a hospital, nursing home, or traumatic burn center, they must file their "Notice" within 75 days of treatment or discharge.

How to Attack a Medical or Hospital Lien Against an Injury Claim in Georgia

After the medical clinic or hospital has sent the "Notice" to the injury claimant and to the Defendant and/or the Defendant's insurance carrier, the "Notice" must be physically filed in the jurisdiction or in the venue of where the hospital is located and where the patient lives.

One way to attack a hospital lien is if the lien was not filed properly. This happens frequently. 

Another way to attack a hospital lien is if the charges are not reasonable or health insurance should have been billed. A hospital may have a billing practice of routinely billing higher for treatment of uninsured patients, and you can attack a hospital lien by proving that the charges are not reasonable and customary. In Bowden v. The Medical Center, Inc., the Georgia Supreme Court held in an action in which the hospital's reasonableness of charges are in issue, how much the hospital charged other patients, insured or uninsured, for the same type of care during the same time period is relevant for discovery purposes and information as to what the hospital receives from private health insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid can be discoverable, or even admissible in determining the reasonableness of its medical charges. For example, if an injury claimant has a $20,000 hospital bill, but on a common health insurance contract, the hospital is paid $2,000, and the remaining $18,000 is written off, this information could be admissible in deciding whether or not that that the amount of the charges was reasonable.

Another very common way to defend against a medical or hospital lien is when the hospital does not bill the patient's health insurance. There are several cases that have been heard over this issue over the last 15 years that have ruled that hospitals are bound by negotiating contracts with private health insurance carriers, and if they don't bill health insurance, the hospital may be limited to receive only what the patient would have owed had health insurance been filed timely.  Thus, only copays and deductibles may be owed in this situation.

Hospital liens are a very common issue in personal injury claims, and hospitals are usually adverse parties in these types of actions. Accident victims who receive emergency room care following an accident should absolutely, if applicable, provide their health insurance card to the hospital when they go in.  If it is refused, the injured party should ask to speak to a supervisor to ensure that their health insurance information has been received. 

At Montlick Injury Attorneys, our attorneys routinely work to make sure hospitals are aware of our client's health insurance, and we do everything we can to make sure that hospitals and medical clinics comply with Georgia law. This allows us to maximize our clients’ financial recoveries.

We Know What It Takes To Win!™ 

If you have been injured or lost a family member due to an accident, contact Montlick & Associates, Injury Attorneys, for your free consultation today. Our law firm has been representing those who suffer serious injuries or lost a loved one in an accident for over 38 years.  Our trial attorneys have recovered billions of dollars for our personal injury clients through negotiated settlements, litigation/lawsuits, settlement of lawsuits, jury verdicts, mediation, and arbitration awards.

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Category: Personal Injury

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.