Health Care Provider Liens Against Personal Injury Claims May Complicate Your Case

In Arizona, health care providers may be entitled to a lien for their “customary charges” generated in treating accident injury victims.  A.R.S. §33-931.  These liens attach to the injured person’s claim for money damages against the at-fault party.  Medical lien laws are designed to allow medical providers to seek payment for their services out of personal injury settlements.  Because of Arizona’s favorable medical lien laws, it is not uncommon for a medical provider to send a lien letter to an injury victim as soon as the provider discovers the victim has or may make a claim for compensation against a third party.  Often times, injury victims who receive lien letters believe they are required to pay the provider out of their settlement funds.  In reality, health care provider liens against personal injury claims are often unenforceable.

Only a “Perfected” Lien is an Enforceable Lien

In order to pursue a medical lien, a medical provider must take certain steps to protect or enforce the lien rights.  This process of protecting lien rights is called “perfecting the lien.”  In order to perfect a lien, the health care provider must within thirty days after initial treatment, “record” (file) a lien in the office of the county recorder setting forth: 1) the name and address of the patient; 2) the name and location of the health care provider; 3) the dates or range of dates of services received by the patient from the health care provider; 4) the amount claimed due for health care; and 5) the names and addresses of all persons, firms or corporations and their insurance carriers claimed by the injured person to be liable for the injuries for which the person received health care.  A.R.S. §33-932.  (Perfection requirements for hospital liens are slightly different and are not highlighted here.)

Know Your Rights

Arizona courts have consistently held that a medical provider must “strictly comply” with the perfection requirements outlined above in order to have a valid, enforceable lien.  Nationwide v. AHCCCS, 133 Ariz. 514, 517 (App. 1990).  As such, a mere lien letter to an injured person is not enough.  Unfortunately, many people who do not understand the strict perfection requirements pay money on invalid or unenforceable liens.  If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident and received a lien letter from a medical provider, it is important that you contact an attorney that has the knowledge and experience to explain your rights and advise you how to deal with medical liens.  If you have questions, call attorney Brian Allen at (480) 461-5335 or contact him at bta@udallshumway.com for a free consultation to discuss your rights and options.

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Health Care Provider Liens Against Personal Injury Claims, or any other personal injury, please feel free to contact Brian T. Allen at  480.461.5335,  log on to udallshumway.com,  or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.