Articles Posted in Liens on Personal Injury

In Barry v St Mary’s Hospital the Plaintiff treated at Defendant – St Mary’s – for injuries he sustained in a car wreck. The defendant asserted 3 liens against the Plaintiff’s personal injury claim which he had against a third party who was not involved in this case. The defendant eventually submitted two of the three bills to Plaintiff’s health insurance.  The third remained a lien on the Plaintiff’s personal injury case.

Plaintiff filed suit against St Mary’s claiming several things, including consumer fraud, third party beneficiary, and breach of contract. In this lawsuit, the plaintiff claimed that the defendant must submit the medical bills to his health insurer. Refusal to do that was breach of contract and tortious.

The court rejected the Plaintiff’s claim.  It held that neither the Lien Act or any contract required the medical provider to submit bills to the health insurer. It could maintain its lien against the case and refuse to bill the health insurer. Claims for breach of contract and tort could not lie.

The appellate court recently held that offset language in uninsured/underinsured policies with plaintiffs injured by two defendants does not apply. Throwing out the offset language is counterintuitive to most lawyers. Lawyers are taught that you apply the language of the contract. This case reminds us that the terms of the insurance policy are applied generally, but that there are exceptions to general statements.

In Tufano the court held that the policy holder must be placed in the same position as if each tortfeasor carried the same as amount of insurance as the injury victim. Furthermore, one tortfeasor’s payment cannot be used to offset the under insurance gap of the other tortfeasor. Each instance of under insurance is viewed separately. However, the amount the plaintiff can get from each party is capped by the un-insurance/under-insurance of his or her policy.

This case is very helpful in that it discusses the prior decisions of both the appellate and supreme courts regarding uninsurance/underinsurance coverage.

In McRoberts v. Porter, the Appellate Court considered the application of the Health Care Services Lien Act and its application to uninsured/under-insured claims. The Health Care Services Lien Act provides that any healthcare professional who renders any service in the treatment, care, or maintenance of an injured person…should have a lien upon all claims and causes of action of the insured person for the amount of the healthcare professionals or healthcare providers reasonable charges up to the date of payment of damages of the injured person. The total amount of liens, under this act, however, shall not exceed 40% of the verdict, judgment, award, settlement, or compromise secured by, or on behalf of, the injured person on his or her claim or right of action. Traditionally, liens applied to tort actions but not claims against insurance.

In McRoberts v. Porter there was a car accident. Three people sustained bodily injuries and damages. There was a liability policy of $50,000.00, which the plaintiffs collected. There was another under-insured motorist benefit of another $50,000.00. The total insurance was $100,000.00.

The liability coverage is clearly subject to liens under the statute. The question was whether or not it applies to under-insured benefits.

In an interesting case under the Healthcare Services Lien Act, calculation of healthcare liens rising from a personal injury suit was decided by the Court of Appeals.

In the case of Stanton v. Rea, the plaintiff was a passenger in a car driven by someone named Rea, when Rea’s car collided with a car driven by Roe. Plaintiff filed suit, incurred hospital bills over $4,000.00. The case went to trial against one of the negligent drivers. The jury awarded damages in the amount of $13,506.80. The trial court entered judgment for that amount plus $3,919.79 in costs. The out of pocket expenses to bring the case to trial had risen to $4,501.44, which included deposition fees. Ultimately, there was a check issued in the amount of $14,520.86.

The reader should note in this case it is unclear why the check was issued for $14,520.86. It does not seem to be supported by the judgment and the costs involved in the case. It is unclear where this amount came about. Nevertheless, it is apparently the amount that the court is using. Regardless of the amount, the language of the case is instructive as to what a plaintiff recovers in a case.

New Illinois Law Helps Injury Victims

The Illinois legislature recently passed a bill to limit recovery of subrogation claimants. House Bill 5823 has passed both chambers and now goes to the governor’s desk. It is expected that the governor will sign the bill.

The bill says, to paraphrase, that subrogation claims are limited to a pro rata share of the amount recovered. The bill does not apply to workers’ compensation claims, medical provider’s lien, or to uninsured/underinsured claims.