North Carolina Appellate Court Issues Decision Clarifying Key Statute Regarding a Hospital’s Right to Assert Medical Liens in Car Accident Cases

Car accident victims are almost always concerned about medical bills and if they will be saddled with extraordinary debt as a result of a crash that someone else caused. Our team of diligent Raleigh car accident lawyers has guided countless individuals through the legal system and helped accident victims understand their rights after someone else has driven carelessly and caused a crash. If you face serious medical bills and other expenses, you may be entitled to compensation. Let us help you assert your legal rights today.

Recently, the North Carolina Court of Appeal handled a case that involved an issue stemming from medical bills that a victim incurred as the result of a car accident. The victim of the crash reported to a hospital to receive treatment for his injuries. The hospital learned that another driver was responsible for the accident and instead of billing the plaintiff’s healthcare insurer, it decided to rely on medical lien statutes and any payments that the plaintiff received from the other driver. It sent the plaintiff a letter notifying him that he had nearly $7,000 in medical bills and that the hospital asserted a medical lien against any liability recovery, medical payments, or uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.

A statute prohibits hospitals from billing patients for expenses that would have been covered pursuant to a healthcare policy. In the lawsuit that arose regarding payment of the plaintiff’s bills, the court had to consider whether this statute prohibits a hospital from relying solely on medical liens and any potential judgment that the patient receives from someone who caused the injury instead of billing the health insurer for that patient.

The Court of Appeal concluded that hospitals have a legally viable option to make the choice to pursue liens and judgments rather than abandoning their liens. The plain language of the relevant statute specifically allows hospitals to make this choice. Also, if the court interpreted the statute to disallow the choice, then it would require patients to pay for unnecessary deductibles and other charges up front because the hospital would be required to bill the insurer instead of waiting for medical liens and judgments.

Based on this, the appellate court also noted that a trial court can allow the parties to introduce evidence of a hospital’s lien and any underlying medical charges and that the other party may not rely on the statute in seeking to bar the plaintiff from offering this evidence to show the medical expenses incurred as a result of the crash.

If you were hurt in a motor vehicle accident, there is no reason for you to bear the burden of navigating the legal process by yourself, along with the other disruptions in your life. At Maurer Law, we proudly provide legal guidance to personal injury victims, including negotiating with insurance companies and hospitals to ensure that our clients are treated fairly, and that they are afforded the full extent of their rights under the law. To schedule a free consultation with our team call us at 1-844-817-8058 or contact us online.