A serious motor vehicle accident can significantly disrupt one’s life. Until faced with the reality of an accident, many do not realize the legal ramifications arising out of a crash, which may be as disrupting as the immediate physical effects of the incident. Understanding your rights and responsibilities as the patient, as well as the legal functions in place to protect both care provider and patient, can make a big difference during your recovery period.
When someone is involved in a life-threatening accident, the right to emergency medical care is protected under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA). Regardless of ability to pay, medical facilities are required by federal law to provide you treatment. It is important to understand, while you cannot be denied care, the EMTALA does not protect patients from paying the accrued costs at a later time. The hospital’s legal claim is typically referred to as a hospital lien.
Unlike other liens, such as a mortgage lien for missed payments, a hospital lien is placed on the potential financial outcome of a settlement. In the event another party is found at fault and that party pays a sum of money as compensation for medical expenses and pain & suffering, the hospital may file an individual claim against the settlement amount to cover medical expenses accrued during treatment. In some cases, the amount of the settlement may only cover the claim of the hospital.
As a patient, it helps to understand that alternatives exist to satisfy both the medical provider and the patient. Separate payment arrangements can be made which preserve a larger portion of the funds to aid in your recovery period. A personal injury attorney can assist in this process.
Ty Wilson is a Georgia personal injury lawyer with offices in Atlanta and Savannah. He is dedicated to helping injured people and their families. Call his office today at 866-937-5454 to order his free book, 10 Secrets of Georgia Car Wreck Claims. This book is intended to give you and/or your loved one a solid foundation regarding Georgia auto accident claims, how to hire an attorney, and how to deal with the insurance company prior to speaking with an attorney.