It’s been quite a year for the Alabama Legislature. Lost in the nationwide attention generated by other controversial legislation — Two proposals that directly impact Alabama personal injury cases. These include (1) proposed distracted driving hands-free legislation; and, (2) proposed hospital lien legislation. I’ve discussed both proposals in prior blog articles.
Hospital liens are a huge issue in Alabama personal injury cases. Many local hospitals (including Huntsville Hospital near my office) routinely slap liens on patients who might have a personal injury claim. If you have private health insurance, like Blue Cross, this can be very frustrating. When you go to the hospital or doctor, you expect your health insurance to cover the charges. After all, you probably paid premiums for that health coverage.
Yet, hospitals routinely ignore health insurance coverage in favor of asserting liens. For that matter, other medical providers (like chiropractors and physical therapists) try to work around health insurance whenever possible in personal injury cases as well. Although these other providers don’t have a protective statute like our hospital lien statute, they will routinely refuse to bill Blue Cross and instead try to get the patient to sign some direct agreement giving them a lien. We routinely hear how injury victims were manipulated by providers into agreements allowing inflated medical charges to be taken from their proceeds.
Why do hospitals prefer liens over health insurance? For some explanation as to why hospitals assert liens against accident victims, you can read my prior posts. The main reason — Hospitals want to collect their inflated charges without the discount given health insurers. The same is true for other providers. They want to collect full, inflated charges from your accident case. At the end of the day, this can greatly impact your net recovery.
After some debate, Alabama passed a new law that addresses some hospital lien situations. Now, in many private insurance situations, the hospital should collect payments from health insurance rather than filing a lien on the patient for the full, inflated charges. I’ve read the new law. I think it’s helpful. It does not really cover situations involving government benefits, like Medicare or Medicaid. But, it does cover private insurance. Since hospitals still have many lien rights, you should consult a skilled attorney if injured and facing medical bills.
At the Blackwell Law Firm, we do not advertise. We do not dabble in multiple areas of the law. We focus all our education and attention on helping people in Alabama with personal injury claims. We devote 100% of our time to personal injury cases so we can best help our clients. If you have questions about a personal injury issue, we are happy to provide answers. You can find many answers on our website or blog. You can also call or email us. Consultations are always free and confidential.