Lately, I have noticed that hospitals (and other healthcare providers) are becoming much more aggressive in gaining a legal strong-hold in your injury claim after a car accident. With the Texas Hospital Lien statute and the way insurance companies are handling your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits, more and more of your money is being taken away by hospitals looking to increase their profit margin by ordering unnecessary procedures and collecting from your injury claim. But there are some things you can do to protect yourself. If you are injured in a car accident and taken to the emergency room, remember these important “Do’s and Dont’s” in order to protect your claim:
DO NOT give the hospital any auto insurance information. When you go to the hospital, you will be asked to sign a bunch of papers with a lot of fine print. One of those documents will be an “Assignment of Benefits” form. If you give the hospital any of the auto insurance information, then they will use that form to make the insurance companies pay them directly. If the insurance company does this, then there is less money for you to collect. This goes for not only your own auto insurance information, but also the insurance company for the other driver. So, the goal here is to protect all potential sources of recovery. The way to do that is to not give the hospital any of the auto insurance information. If the hospital asks for the information, just tell them your would rather not disclose it would rather go through your health insurance. If you do not have health insurance, then just tell the hospital to bill you directly. Hold your ground no matter how persistent the hospital admissions staff. After all, there is nothing they can do make you disclose this information and they cannot refuse you as a patient.
DO NOT give the hospital any of the police report information. This actually goes hand-in hand with the previous paragraph. If you give the hospital the police report information, then they will try to obtain a copy of the police report. The police report will have all the auto insurance information for all the drivers. Then the hospital has the information necessary to try and collect their bill directly from the insurance companies which will leave less money for your to collect upon settlement of your case. Recent rules, however, have restricted who may obtain personal information from police reports, including insurance information. But why take the chance? The hospital may still request the report and accidentally get the information anyway. The way to prevent this is to NOT give the hospital the police report number.
DO give the hospital your health insurance information. This is what the hospital is trying to avoid. If they are forced to bill your health insurance, then they will collect much less on their bill than if they billed the auto insurance directly. The hospital will go so far as to say that your health insurance will not honor the claim because it is a car accident. That is 100% wrong. Your health insurance will honor the claim and then just seek reimbursement later from any future settlement. But this is a better situation for you because reimbursing the health insurance will be cheaper than paying the hospital the full amount of their bill. This leaves more money for you to pocket in your case. Additionally, if the hospital is forced to submit you bill to your health insurance, then they are not allowed to file a hospital lien in your case. As stated before, if you do not have health insurance, then just tell the hospital to bill you directly. They cannot refuse you as a patient.
DO try and wait to go to the hospital, if you can. If you wait more than 72 hours to go to the hospital, then they cannot file a hospital lien. If at all possible, a hospital lien is something you want to avoid. If you need to seek emergency medical treatment right away, go to a minor emergency center such as CareNow or PrimaCare. Why? Because these facilities are not considered “hospitals” under the hospital lien statute and cannot file a lien. At the same time, do not give the auto insurance information to these clinics either. They will try to tell you that you have to, but you do not. Just give them your health insurance information.
DO hire an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. Once you get out of the hospital, contact an attorney right away. If you don’t go to the hospital directly from the accident, contact an attorney and discuss your best options for getting an initial evaluation, You need to know your rights and start taking the steps necessary to protect them. Make no mistake that everyone else, including the ambulance, hospital, doctors and insurance companies, are already preparing to protect themselves at your expense. Therefore, getting legal representation as soon as possible is essential to you properly enforcing your rights and maximizing your recovery.
The thing that you must remember is that your car accident claim belongs to you. So you should make sure you do not give anyone the “key to the vault” or else you run the risk of seriously undermining your potential settlement. An experience car accident lawyer and personal injury attorney will know how to navigate through your claim in the best possible way to avoid the many traps and pitfalls that will hinder your injury settlement.
3 thoughts on “How to Protect Your Rights from a Hospital after a Car Accident.”
How u doing, I was envolved in a accident jun 1st, offer just came in. I never sign no assignment for the hospital and I was trying to have my hospital bill money added to my settlement. My lawyer said the settlement is 12,200 and I would end up with 2300 after he pays my bills,I told him I never sign anything,I will make payment arrangements. I set up a payment plan. Can I pay my own hospital bills.
If the hospital has not filed and perfected a hospital lien, then they do not have a direct claim on your settlement proceeds. Therefore, you can direct your attorney not to pay the hospital and to give that money to you. But you are still responsible to satisfy the hospital bill. On the other hand, if the insurance company is putting the hospital’s name on your settlement check, then you have a problem. You need to find out why the insurance company might be doing that.
I was in a 1 roll-over collision in Jan. of 2017, which was not my fault, but the cops believed the lies of the other driver, which is what was put on the police report. I told them what happened, but didn’t have much opportunity to talk to them b/c the EMTs told me they had to take me to the hospital. I told them there that I didn’t want to be taken (& my boyfriend, who was in the car behind me, caught by a light, so he didn’t witness it but quickly came upon the scene) could drive me if I felt I needed to go, altho I didn’t need that. They told me I was in a roll-over & they had to. The hospital is literally 2 miles from the intersection where the wreck occurred. $800 bill. Then the ER charged me another $17,000 (doesn’t include the price of MRIs for my back & neck, pain meds, & knee x-ray, during my 8-hr stay there). Insurance hung me out to dry, found me at fault, won’t give me an appeal for review as I requested, they believe the lies of the other driver (much cheaper to fix the scratches on his truck, as he was speeding down a wet, curving hill, trying to beat what would soon be a red light, as we both know the light cycle there), he told the cops what color MY light was (he can’t see that from his direction, & based on THAT, the cops said I turned left in front of him on an unprotected green); he also didn’t have his lights on until right before he hit me, which I told the police, claims I turned left in front of him when he hadn’t come into view, he never honked, didn’t screech tires, no tire marks (all a person would do if someone “just turned in front of you), but no one investigated/thought about it except for me, this has ruined me financially, & all along, I never wanted the ambulance or the hospital b/c altho yes, I hurt, I was certain nothing was broken (I do have some hands-on medical employment in my background), I’m ruined financially, I can’t pay b/c I’ve not been able to work for years, I haven’t had a vehicle in almost a year, I don’t have health insurance, the “charitable” hospital has a Patient Assistance Program, for which I applied, & despite my income of almost 0, they’ve strung me along for months, asking for more docs than their list requests/requires (they don’t believe I make so little $$), & I’ve now been turned over for collection, harassed by calls & letters every few days. I’ve considered suing the individual b/c while it can’t be proven he caused the wreck, it can’t be proven that I did, which I did not. I entered an empty intersection, turning left (in the intersection so *should* have control of it, as I was taught in Driver’s Ed) going uphill, at a snail’s pace, as I waited for my boyfriend to catch up, & this guy flew around the corner, & turned his lights on right before he hit me (dark at 11pm). I’ve already paid for all the imaging & some other things, but I can’t pay anymore or I will be completely out of money. I didn’t think hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer was the course to go b/c except for a hurt knee & feeling like I’d be in a car wreck, I didn’t have injuries. I thought about looking into any class action suits against my ins. company for their help in causing this financial nightmare/ruination for me, & then it occurred to me just recently, I told EMS that I didn’t want to be transported to the hospital, & the EMTs said I had to be, & I wanted to find out if I HAD to be. Now I’m learning that isn’t necessarily so, & if I hadn’t believed them, I would have stood & talked more w/ the police, & then limped to my boyfriend’s car while my totaled vehicle was towed away. I have been royally screwed by all of them, & now I fear w/ my inability to pay, for something I shouldn’t have to pay for anyway, that a lien will be put on my house, which has my parents name on it as well. Short story made long–if I told EMS I didn’t want to be transported to the hospital, they said I did, which ended up totaling $30K for me, I would never have rec’d a single bill & be in this hell. Is there any way I can fight this now, after I’ve learned that I didn’t have to go by ambulance to the ER, if I went at all, as I would have just gone home & tended to the fact that I felt beaten up but knew nothing was broken. Thank you for reading thru all that & any help you can offer. Very much appreciated!!
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