February 2020
Hospital lien statute inapplicable to first-party (UM/UIM) claims
Meredith Short

In Truman Med. Ctr., Inc. v. Progressive Cas. Ins. Co., the Missouri Appellate Court held Missouri’s “hospital lien statute” (R.S.Mo. § 430.235) is inapplicable to first-party claims such as an uninsured motorist claim. The statute provides in relevant part, that: “qualifying hospitals shall have a lien upon any and all claims, counterclaims, demands, suits, or rights of action of any person admitted to any hospital ... and receiving treatment, care or maintenance therein for any cause including any personal injury sustained by such person as the result of the negligence or wrongful act of another, which such injured person may have, assert or maintain against the person or persons causing such injury for damages on account of such injury ...”  Truman, 597 S.W.3d at 367-368 (emphasis added). In other words, section § 430.235 creates a lien against ‘any and all claims … which such injured person may have … against the person or persons causing such injury. The obvious purpose of [the statute] is to allow a hospital a lien on the injured person’s cause of action against the tortfeasor.” Id. at 368 (emphasis original) (internal quotation omitted). Section § 430.235 “makes no reference to a lien on insurance benefits.” Id. Accordingly, section § 430.235 does not extend to uninsured motorist coverage because a claim for uninsured motorist coverage is against an insured’s own insurance company, not the tortfeasor.

 

In Truman Med. Ctr., Inc. v. Progressive Cas. Ins. Co., Ozell Lincoln was in an automobile accident caused by an unidentified motorist. Truman Medical Center (TMC) provided treatment to Mr. Lincoln after he was injured. Mr. Lincoln asserted a first-party claim for uninsured motorist coverage under his Progressive Policy. TMC argued that pursuant to R.S.Mo. § 430.235, any unpaid medical bills should attach to Mr. Lincoln’s $300,000.00 settlement. However, the Court found section § 430.235 does not extend to first-party claims against an insured’s own insurance company. Mr. Lincoln was not asserting a claim against the other motorist that was involved in the accident because the motorist was unknown. The court held that “Progressive was neither the person or persons who caused Mr. Lincoln’s injury nor has either party alleged facts that Progressive insured the person or persons causing Mr. Lincoln’s injury.” Id. at 365. Therefore, based on the plain meaning of the statute, TMC’s lien did not extend to Mr. Lincoln’s uninsured motorist coverage because the coverage was provided by Progressive, not the tortfeasor.

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