What Are Hospital Liens in Auto Injury Cases?

If you got hurt in a car accident in New Jersey, you most likely have some medical bills. If your hospital bill and all other medical bills do not exceed the amount of your Personal Injury Protection (PIP), your PIP coverage could pay your hospital bill. You will have to pay any of your medical bills that exceed your PIP coverage. 

The hospital might agree to hold off on sending your account to collections if you have a pending personal injury claim against the at-fault driver. You and your personal injury lawyer would have to agree to pay the outstanding medical bills out of the settlement proceeds from the injury claim. A New Jersey personal injury attorney can protect your legal rights and answer your questions about hospital liens in auto injury cases

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Coverage and Medical Bills

Insurers issuing policies to New Jersey drivers must include Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. Among other things, PIP coverage can pay for your hospital bills and other medically necessary costs to treat your injuries from a motor vehicle accident. 

The minimum PIP coverage in New Jersey is $15,000 per person or accident. For a higher premium, you could buy PIP coverage in the amounts of $50,000; $75,000; $150,000; $250,000, or more.

PIP policies have strict rules about what they will cover. You will likely have a deductible and a co-pay. For example, you might have a $1,000 deductible and a 20 percent co-pay. 

If you have this type of coverage and your medical bills are $12,000, you will have to pay the first $1,000 out of your own pocket and 20 percent of the remaining bills. Many people do not keep much money in savings, so you might need to enter into a lien with the hospital to pay the unpaid bills out of your personal injury claim settlement.

Medical Bills

Your medical bills can start before you even get to the hospital. The ambulance that takes you to the emergency room is a medical expense. Other things that qualify as medical bills after a car accident include the reasonable cost of:

  • Doctors 
  • Hospital 
  • Imaging studies like x-rays and CT scans
  • Diagnostic procedures
  • Lab tests
  • Surgery 
  • Prescription drugs 
  • Physical therapy
  • Equipment like crutches and wheelchairs

You might have additional items that qualify as medical bills.

How a Hospital Lien Works in an Auto Injury Case

As part of your personal injury claims against the at-fault driver, your lawyer will gather evidence of your losses, including medical bills. The hospital will likely send you invoices demanding payment for the portion of your expenses that your PIP coverage did not pay.

Your lawyer can contact the hospital and, with your permission, sign a hospital lien. A hospital lien says that you and your lawyer agree to pay the hospital bill when the case settles. After settlement, the defendant’s insurance company will send a check to your attorney. The lawyer will pay the liens before sending you a check for your portion of the settlement money.  

A New Jersey personal injury attorney can negotiate directly with the insurer on your behalf so that you can focus on getting better. Contact us today.