Q: how to get a hospital lien nullified
A: Resolving a lien at the end of a personal injury case is generally something that's more in the control of the medical provider than it is the plaintiff. Your attorney could try to negotiate with the hospital to see if they are willing to accept a reduction in their lien. Also examine how the lien materialized. If it materialized because the insurance carrier determined the services to be medically unnecessary, or because the proper fee schedule was not applied, that could provide reasons for your attorney to review the charges and determine if the lien is fully legitimate. Good luck
A: First, you need to examine whether the hospital lien is enforceable.
OCGA § 44-14-471. Procedure to perfect; filing of statement by operator of hospital; effect as notice
(a) In order to perfect the lien provided for in Code Section 44-14-470, the operator of the hospital, nursing home, physician practice, or provider of traumatic burn care medical practice:
(1) Shall, not less than 15 days prior to the date of filing the statement required under paragraph (2) of this subsection, provide written notice to the patient and, to the best of the claimant's knowledge, the persons, firms, corporations, and their insurers claimed by the injured person or the legal representative of the injured person to be liable for damages arising from the injuries and shall include in such notice a statement that the lien is not a lien against the patient or any other property or assets of the patient and is not evidence of the patient's failure to pay a debt. Such notice shall be sent to all such persons and entities by first-class and certified mail or statutory overnight delivery, return receipt requested; and
(2) Shall file in the office of the clerk of the superior court of the county in which the hospital, nursing home, physician practice, or provider of traumatic burn care medical practice is located and in the county wherein the patient resides, if a resident of this state, a verified statement setting forth the name and address of the patient as it appears on the records of the hospital, nursing home, physician practice, or provider of traumatic burn care medical practice; the name and location of the hospital, nursing home, physician practice, or provider of traumatic burn care medical practice and the name and address of the operator thereof; the dates of admission and discharge of the patient therefrom or with respect to a physician practice, the dates of treatment; and the amount claimed to be due for the hospital, nursing home, physician practice, or provider of traumatic burn care medical practice care, which statement must be filed within the following time period:
(A) If the statement is filed by a hospital, nursing home, or provider of traumatic burn care medical practice, then the statement shall be filed within 75 days after the person has been discharged from the facility; or
(B) If the statement is filed by a physician practice, then the statement shall be filed within 90 days after the person first sought treatment from the physician practice for the injury.
(b) The filing of the claim or lien shall be notice thereof to all persons, firms, or corporations liable for the damages, whether or not they received the written notice provided for in this Code section. The failure to perfect such lien by timely complying with the notice and filing provisions of paragraphs (1) and (2) of subsection (a) of this Code section shall invalidate such lien, except as to any person, firm, or corporation liable for the damages, which receives prior to the date of any release, covenant not to bring an action, or settlement, actual notice of a notice and filed statement made under subsection (a) of this Code section, via hand delivery, certified mail, return receipt requested, or statutory overnight delivery with confirmation of receipt.
If you are on actual notice of the lien, it may still be an enforceable debt even if not perfected.
In personal injury cases, we often see hospitals choose to rely upon the lien for the "sticker price" of services rather than submitting the claims to an insurance company, Medicare or Medicaid. When we see that happening during the progress of the case, we may submit the bills directly to the insurer, Medicare or Medicaid, in order to reduce the amount of any lien or reimbursement claim.
If the lien is valid and enforceable, the next step is to attempt to negotiate with the hospital's representative to reduce the amount. Often we can get that reduced by a third or more.
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