From our extensive experience as Las Vegas personal injury attorneys, we have seen the huge hospital bills after Las Vegas car accidents our clients receive. For the injured victims of Las Vegas car accidents without health insurance, those hospital bills could prove devastating. One emergency room visit to a Las Vegas valley hospital after a car accident can amount to thousands of dollars. In many cases, when a hospital knows that someone was injured in a car accident, the hospital bills after Las Vegas car accidents are usually higher than for any other type of injuries. In Las Vegas car accident cases, the hospitals know they can assert a lien against the car insurance company of the negligent driver that caused the accident.
Despite the Affordable Healthcare Act, many people still do not have health insurance, and many more people than that cannot afford the hospital bills resulting from a car accident, which bills could be in the thousands of dollars. Nevada hospitals can hold off on receiving payment until a settlement or the personal injury claim is resolved by issuing a hospital lien. Section 108 of the Nevada Revised Statute governs hospital liens. NRS 108.590(1) provides:
Whenever any person receives hospitalization on account of any injury, and the injured person, or a personal representative after the person’s death, claims damages from the person responsible for causing the injury, the hospital has a lien upon any sum awarded the injured person or the personal representative by judgment or obtained by a settlement or compromise to the extent of the amount due the hospital for the reasonable value of the hospitalization rendered before the date of judgment, settlement or compromise.
To be able to put the hospital bills on a lien, the hospital must be made aware that the treatment is a result of a car accident. The hospital will also want to know the car accident’s personal injury attorney and the car insurance company of the person who caused the accident. A hospital lien, however, will not necessarily stop the hospital from sending the bill into collections or reporting the outstanding bill on your credit report. Speak to the hospital about this at the time of your treatment or soon after.
To be valid and enforceable, the hospital lien must be recorded with the county recorder’s office and sent by certified or registered mail to the insurance company of the person responsible for the car accident, as well as that person. NRS 108.610 provides:
NRS 108.610. Notice of lien required: Recording and service. In order to perfect the lien, the hospital or the owner or operator thereof shall:
- Before the payment of any money to the injured person or to a legal representative as compensation for injuries received, record a notice of lien, substantially in the form prescribed in NRS 108.620, containing an itemized statement of the amount claimed. The notice of lien must be filed with:
(a) The county recorder of the county wherein the hospital is located; and
(b) The county recorder of the county wherein the injury was suffered, if the injury was suffered in a county other than that wherein the hospital is located.
- Before the date of judgment, settlement or compromise, serve a certified copy of the notice of lien by registered or certified mail upon the person alleged to be responsible for causing the injury and liable for damages on account thereof and from which damages are claimed.
- Before the date of judgment, settlement or compromise, serve a certified copy of the notice of lien by registered or certified mail upon the insurance carrier, if known, which has insured against liability of the person alleged to be responsible for causing the injury and liable for damages on account thereof and from which damages are claimed.
Additionally, the hospital is required to provide a thirty percent (30%) uninsured discount if you make payment arrangements in advance. Under § NRS 439B.260(1), hospitals generally must reduce charges by 30 percent to inpatients who lack insurance “or other contractual provision for the payment of the charge by a third party,” are not eligible for public medical payment assistance, and arrange within 30 days of discharge to pay the hospital bill. See Bielar v. Washoe Health Sys., Inc., 129 Nev. Adv. Op. 49, 306 P.3d 360, 361 (2013). In that case, the car accident victim, after paying the hospital its full bill, sued the hospital claiming that the hospital’s charges were unreasonable and that the hospital failed to give her the mandatory 30% discount under NRS § 493B.260. She presented evidence at trial that the hospital had made a 185% profit margin on the victim’s bill and that the hospital overcharged the victim. The district court held that the victim was ineligible for the 30% statutory discount because of the personal injury settlement she received much later after her hospitalization. On appeal, the Nevada Supreme Court held that the victim was eligible because at the time the victim received the hospital services, she had no health insurance or other insurance that would cover her bills. According to the Court, the subsequent personal injury settlement cannot be considered as “other contractual agreement.”
The hospital lien is enforceable only against the insurance company of the person responsible for the car accident, otherwise known as liability insurance. This means that the hospital cannot enforce its lien against a car accident victim’s uninsured (UM) or underinsured motorist policy. See Washoe Medical Center, Inc. v. Reliance Ins. Co., 112 Nev. 494, 915 P.2d 288 (1996) (holding that Nevada’s hospital lien statute does not encompass an individual’s UM benefits for several reasons).
If you were in a Las Vegas car accident and have medical bills piling up, contact the experienced Personal Injury Attorneys of D.R. Patti & Associates to help you. We obtain not only fair compensation for the injuries suffered by our clients but also negotiate with hospitals and other medical providers to reduce our clients’ medical bills. We have helped many clients with their hospital bills after Las Vegas car accidents.