No person, business, or governmental entity has a right to claim a portion of an injured victim’s personal injury judgment or settlement, unless there is a law passed by the state legislature or by congress that gives this right. When it comes to unpaid bills for medical services for care rendered as a result of a another’s carelessness, many state legislatures give hospitals or other medical providers a lien, or a possessory right to payment, against an injured victim’s personal injury recovery. In many cases, the at-fault party that settles a case without ensuring all hospital liens are satisfied risks exposure to additional liability from the hospital after the consummation of a settlement with the injured victim.
Most lawyers in Mississippi operate under the assumption that no general hospital lien statute exists. This assumption is usually true, and will mostly keep a civil practitioner out of trouble. However, under Miss. Code Ann. § 85-7-301 (1972), et seq., a lien does exist in favor of a qualified provider that administers burn care to an injured victim. There are specific notice and timeliness requirements that a hospital must follow in order perfect its lien and preserve its claim for payment from the injured victim’s settlement or judgment. Any time a client’s injuries arguably involve treatment for burn care, it is wise to check with the chancery clerk’s office to see if a timely lien notice is required. Failure to do so could be a costly mistake.