Everyone wants to be paid for his or her work, including medical providers who provide treatment to those who have been injured in an east Tennessee automobile accident. However, there are limitations under the law with regard to what a creditor can and cannot do in his or her collection efforts.
A recent case explored how two Tennessee statutes – the Tennessee Healthcare Liability Act (THL) and Tennessee Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) – applied in a personal injury case in which a healthcare provider attempted to assert a lien.
Facts of the Case
In a recent case, the original plaintiff was a man who was allegedly injured in a car crash in Madison County, Tennessee, and treated for his injuries at a hospital in Dyer County (where the plaintiff resided). After a “professional account services” provider filed a notice of a hospital lien in his lawsuit against the allegedly negligent driver whose actions injured the plaintiff, the plaintiff amended his complaint to add a second plaintiff (who had been injured in an car accident in Obion County, treated at a hospital in Weakly County, and served with a hospital lien by the same account services provider as the original plaintiff) and to name the defendant account services provider as a party defendant.
In the amended complaint, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendant had violated the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act by filing undiscounted hospital liens for the healthcare services rendered to them following their respective automobile accidents. The trial court dismissed one plaintiff’s claim based on the failure to bring a claim under the Hospital Lien Act and dismissed the other’s claim for improper venue. Both plaintiffs appealed.
Decision of the Court of Appeals of Tennessee
The court of appeals modified in part, reversed in part, and remanded the case to the Circuit Court of Madison County. The court began its inquiry by considering whether, as argued by the defendant, the Healthcare Liability Act was the exclusive means through which the reasonableness of medical charges would be contested. Finding nothing in the HLA that specifically foreclosed the possibility of a claim under the TCPA, the court concluded that the HLA did not prohibit the plaintiffs from bringing their claim under the TCPA. The court of appeals also sided with the plaintiffs on the issue of venue, finding that the trial court should have considered both of their claims under the circumstances.
Unfortunately for the plaintiffs, however, the court went on to find that the plaintiffs were not entitled to relief under the TCPA because the bills at issue were for professional services, which the court held to be excluded from the protection of the act. (It is possible that the Tennessee Supreme Court might find otherwise, should the plaintiffs opt to appeal their case farther.)
Contact a Maryville Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been hurt by another’s negligent or careless driving, you may be very unpleasantly surprised at not only the attitude of the at-fault driver and his or her liability insurance company but possibly even the actions of your own insurer or, as in the case above, the financial representatives of your medical providers. At Hartsoe Law Firm, P.C., we have “seen it all” – or at least most of it – when it comes to the unpleasant and utter litigiousness of the various parties typically involved in a civil lawsuit. We are here to protect your legal rights during the litigation of a Knoxville or Maryville automobile accident. Call us at 865-524-5657 for a free consultation about your case.
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