LEGAL GUIDE
Written by attorney Jon Ethan Lewis | Apr 8, 2010

Alabama Car Accident - Hospital Liens

What about a HOSPITAL LIEN? Hospital liens are governed by Alabama Code Section 35-11-370:

Lien declared.

Any person, firm, hospital authority or corporation operating a hospital in this state shall have a lien for all reasonable charges for hospital care, treatment and maintenance of an injured person who entered such hospital within one week after receiving such injuries, upon any and all actions, claims, counterclaims and demands accruing to the person to whom such care, treatment or maintenance was furnished, or accruing to the legal representatives of such person, and upon all judgments, settlements and settlement agreements entered into by virtue thereof on account of injuries giving rise to such actions, claims, counterclaims, demands, judgments, settlements or settlement agreements and which necessitated such hospital care, subject, however, to any attorney's lien.

(Acts 1955, No. 488, p. 1098, §1.)

Hospitals are typically less willing to negotiate their lien like BlueCross will negotiate their subrogation interest. In fact, many hospitals in Alabama are now refusing to accept your health insurance if you were involved in an accident because they would prefer to assert their lien and attempt to recover more than what BlueCross or some other health insurance carrier would pay them.

While this is unfair, it is something we have to deal with, and it creates further questions as to whether or not an attorney will help you or hurt you. For example, assume that a hospital has a $100,000.00 lien, and there is only $60,000.00 of insurance coverage available. If you can negotiate with the hospital so that they will take 1/3 or 50% of the $60,000.00, you can walk away with $30,000.00 or $40,000.00 (That can be a big "if" without an attorney). But, if you have an attorney, typically, the best that attorney can do is get the hospital to agree to a 1/3 split across the board, i.e.: 1/3 to the hospital, 1/3 to the attorney, and 1/3 to you. If that is the result, you will end up with only $20,000.00, not the $30,000.00 or $40,000.00 if you are successful in negotiating with the hospital and insurance company yourself (again, a big "if"). Sometimes, it helps to have the attorney who is used to negotiating with the hospitals.

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