Georgia’s Hospital Lien Statute: How Hospitals Rip off Insured Patients

Personal Injury Patient Struggles with Hospital Liens

Georgia’s hospital lien statute, codified as O.C.G.A. § 44-14-470, gives hospitals the opportunity to rip off injured victims. When a hospital provides medical care to an injured person, such as someone injured in a car accident, they have the right under Georgia law, O.C.G.A. 44-14-470, to file a lien against any cause of action related to the injury. The lien is a legal claim that the hospital is entitled to a portion of the funds recovered by the injured person in any lawsuit or settlement.

Georgia law sets forth requirements that hospitals must follow to assert a valid lien, such as providing notice to the patient and filing the lien with the local court within a set period of time. Hospitals are experienced in filing medical liens so with few exceptions, they typically comply.

There are hospitals in Georgia that use Georgia’s hospital lien statute to rip-off injured patients. It’s unfair, unethical, and inconsistent with Georgia’s caring and hospitable nature. We want you to know about this abusive practice so that if you or a family member ever require hospital care after an accident, you can fight back.

How Hospitals Rip off Injured Patients

You may be wondering what’s unfair about hospitals using Georgia’s hospital lien statute. After all, shouldn’t hospitals be paid for the care they provide? Hospitals and other medical care providers should always be paid reasonable amounts for the services they provide. The problem lies in how some hospitals use the lien law.

Hospitals typically have a “chargemaster,” which is a list of the prices for every single service or supply that a hospital provides. Chargemaster rates are typically very high, an average of four times the cost of the service or supply provided. Hospitals do not usually receive these high rates, instead, they offer health insurance companies far lower rates.

When a lawsuit is involved, some hospitals see it as a money-making opportunity. They file a lien for the heavily inflated chargemaster rates — sometimes instead of billing insurance. That’s right. Hospitals routinely refuse to bill the patient’s health insurance because they know they won’t get paid as much. In many cases, the chargemaster rates are unreasonable, which is impermissible under Georgia’s hospital lien statute. The statute only permits hospitals to recover “reasonable charges,” O.C.G.A. 44-14-470.

Reasonable charges are exactly what anyone is entitled to when they provide a service for someone else but many hospitals don’t see it that way. Hospitals often get away with filing liens for these exorbitant fees because injured patients are not aware they can challenge them. The hospital ends up with a windfall at the expense of the injured person who little, or virtually nothing, from the lawsuit that was supposed to compensate them for the injuries they suffered.

Unreasonable Hospital Liens Hurt Patients and Drive up Litigation Costs

During the trial of a personal injury lawsuit in Georgia, Plaintiffs must prove the medical expenses incurred due to the accident were reasonable and necessary. Allen v. Spiker, 301 Ga. App. 893 (2009). If the Plaintiff can’t show that the bills were reasonable and necessary, her or she cannot recover the amount of those bills. So, why should a hospital be allowed to place a lien on the Plaintiff’s case and recover for services that aren’t necessary or for charges that are unreasonable? It makes no sense and only benefits hospitals that try to rip off their patients.

Hospital liens also drive up the costs of litigation. How? Suppose a hospital places a lien on a patient’s injury claim for $100,000.00 for the “chargemaster rates.” Assume further that the patient has health insurance and the health insurer would have paid the hospital $50,000.00 for the reasonable value of the services. What if there is only $100,000.00 of automobile insurance available to compensate the patient? In this situation, the patient is not likely settle his or her claim for the insurance limits because the hospital will have its hand out waiting to be paid its grossly excessive fees.

This forces the patient to file a lawsuit in a case that could otherwise be settled. It also subjects the at-fault party to personal financial exposure from a verdict that exceeds the insurance limits. In our hypothetical situation, litigation could have been avoided if the hospital simply accepted reasonable payment from the injured patient’s health insurance company.

Fighting Back Against Hospitals Unfair Lien Practices

At Williams Elleby, we believe that when someone is injured in an accident, they should be able to obtain the medical care they need without worrying about hospital bills in the future. We believe that hospitals should charge fair prices to all patients and not try to drive prices up when they know a patient may receive money from a lawsuit or insurance company. These are pretty basic ethical standards, but unfortunately, not all hospitals seem to agree.

The good news is that people are becoming aware of some hospitals’ abusive billing practices. Personal injury attorneys across the country are fighting against hospitals that try to rip off patients. As injured patients learn more, they have started hiring attorneys to advocate on their behalf. News organizations are publishing articles that highlight the hospitals’ attempts to rip off personal injury patients and calling out — by name — the most abusive hospitals. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but the progress is positive.

If you or someone you know has suffered personal injuries in Georgia, make sure you hire a law firm that is knowledgeable in the state’s hospital lien laws and not afraid to fight back. If you have questions about lien laws or whether you have a case, call the attorneys at Williams Elleby at 833-LEGALGA to schedule a free consultation with one of our Georgia trial attorneys.

Get to Know Chase Elleby – Partner

Williams Elleby Partner Chase Elleby

Personal injury attorney Chase Elleby has recently become a named partner at Williams|Elleby. Together with Joel Williams, they litigate serious cases involving car accidents, tractor-trailer wrecks and premises liability injuries throughout the state of Georgia. Chase shared his thoughts on practicing law, his relationships with his clients and where he sees his career taking him in the future.

What is your favorite thing about being a lawyer?

Not to sound too cliché but my favorite thing about being a lawyer is being able to help people in a time of need. A personal injury claim and lawsuit is extremely overwhelming. Being able to help people navigate the claims process and fight on their behalf to make sure they receive fair compensation is very rewarding. 

What excites you about being able to practice law in your hometown of Kennesaw?

Everything! Growing up in Kennesaw and being able to work and raise my kids here is great. The community gave me so much growing up (including my wife, who also grew up in Kennesaw), and I hope to give back as much as I can.

What are some of the biggest challenges your personal injury clients face after an injury?

The biggest challenge facing our personal injury clients is getting better. Any injury, including minor and severe ones, can be scary because you never know if your body will recover or if you will be living with the injury for the rest of your life. Injuries not only take a toll physically, but they are also mentally and financially debilitating. Making sure you are protected, and that your attorney is going to fight to help you in a time of need, is very important.

How has your experience as a defense lawyer helped your personal injury clients?

My prior experience has given me perspective. Understanding what most insurance companies and defense attorneys are trying to accomplish with each case helps me explain to my clients what they are up against and what to expect. It also helps me to identify weaknesses in my cases so I am better prepared to fight for my clients.

Looking back on your legal career, what is the one thing you are most proud of?

Becoming a partner with Joel. He’s a fantastic lawyer and mentor and an even better person. I’m grateful to be a part of this firm.

You recently became a named partner at Williams|Elleby. What are your goals as a partner and where do you see the firm 10 years from now?

My goals will be the same – to keep doing my best and working hard every day for all of my clients to help them through one of the most difficult moments in their lives. I see the firm continuing to grow in the years to come and making a positive impact in our community.

If you would like more information about the attorneys at Williams|Elleby or would like to discuss your situation, get in touch for a free consultation – 833-LEGALGA.

Chase Elleby Named Firm Partner

Williams Elleby Attorney Personal Injury Wrongful Death Georgia

WILLIAMS | ELLEBY is happy to announce the naming of Chase Elleby as an official partner of the firm, which has changed its name to Williams | Elleby. This name change is effective October 1, 2019 and represents the important contributions that Elleby has made through his work.

Elleby joined the firm in 2017, handling a variety of personal injury cases including auto and truck collisions, school bus accidents, medical malpractice, negligent security, wrongful death and day care injuries. During this time, he helped recover millions of dollars on behalf of the firm’s clients, exemplifying the hard work and dedication that is valued at the firm.

“Changing the name of our firm recognizes Chase’s significant contributions and the outstanding results he has achieved on our clients’ behalf,” said Joel Williams, founding partner. “Chase is a very talented attorney who works tirelessly to get justice for personal injury victims throughout the State of Georgia.”

Elleby also offers a unique perspective to the firm. Prior to representing the injured and their families, he represented corporations and insurance companies. This provided him with valuable insight into how insurance companies work and he has implemented this into his current practice. He also has extensive knowledge of automobile insurance law, medical billing, and medical insurance coverage which helps him maximize the recovery for our clients.

Williams and Elleby look forward to the opportunity to work together as partners as they continue serving their clients. “It is an honor to fight for justice for our clients,” Elleby said, “I am proud of the work Joel and I do to help our fellow Georgians.”

If you would like to learn more about the firm, reach out to Joel and Chase by phone at 833-LEGALGA or by email at
joel@gatrialattorney.com and chase@gatrialattorney.com.

Obtaining a Car Accident Report in Georgia

Car Accident Report for Personal Injury Civic Case in Georgia

While a car accident is a stressful event, there is a very clear process in place to obtain a car accident report in Georgia. The first thing that you should do after a car accident is to call the police and report the accident. The police report will be a vital piece of evidence for your personal injury claim. If you file a personal injury claim with an automobile insurance company, the insurer will most certainly ask whether an accident report was filed and then ask for access to it.

What Is a Car Accident Report?

car accident report is a document that the responding police officers fill out while at the scene of the accident. It captures essential information about the who, what, when, where, and how of the accident. Specifically, this includes:

  • The names, addresses, contact number, and insurance information for those involved in the accident — this includes the drivers and passengers in both vehicles
  • Vehicle damage
  • The date of the accident
  • The time of the accident
  • The location of the accident
  • Contact information for any witnesses to the accident
  • Any injuries
  • Additional notes on behavior or circumstances surround the accident

How Do You Obtain a Car Accident Report?

There are usually two ways that you can obtain a copy of the police report: paid or free. If you do not want to spend any money, then after you file a claim with your insurance company, you can ask if they can obtain a free copy for you. If you decide to take the paid route, you will use the receipt number that the responding police officer provided to you at the scene of the accident and contact the traffic division of the police department to request a copy.

You will be required to pay a fee, but it is usually nominal. You can also access most Georgia Uniform Motor Vehicle Accident Reports at the website https://www.buycrash.com.

If you do not have the police report receipt from the responding officer, you can still get a paid copy from the traffic division by providing specific details of the accident as well as your name.

Usually a letter with the following language will be sufficient to obtain the accident report and other publically available evidence you may need: “Pursuant to the Georgia Open Records Act (O.C.G.A. § 50-18-70 & 50-18-71), I am requesting a complete copy of the original motor vehicle accident reports, photographs, dash cam videos, and any additional documentation you may have regarding an automobile wreck I was involved in on [INSERT DATE OF YOUR WRECK] in [INSERT COUNTY] at [INSERT ROAD NAME WHERE THE WRECK OCCURRED].”

How Is a Car Accident Report Used in a Lawsuit or Settlement?

Prior to trial, a police report is extremely useful during settlement negotiations with the automobile insurance company. Unfortunately, the complete police report is usually not admissible evidence if your personal injury case ends up going to trial. Some portions of the report may be admissible while other portions are not.

For More Information, Contact Our Georgia Car Accident Lawyers

Obtaining a car accident report is pretty straightforward and painless — which is a good thing considering how important it is to your Georgia car crash case. If you have recently been in a car accident in Georgia and think that you may want to file a personal injury claim, it’s best to seek out an experienced legal professional. Contact Williams Elleby to schedule a free consultation by calling 833-LEGALGA.

Preparing for a Consultation with a Georgia Personal Injury Lawyer

Legal Advice and Consultation With Georgia Personal Injury Lawyer

If you need to consult with a personal injury attorney in Georgia, there are some things you should know prior meeting with the attorney. There are many fine personal injury attorneys in Georgia but you need to find the one that is the best attorney for your case. This begins with the initial consultation.

What Is a Lawyer Consultation?

Most personal injury consultations are free of charge. The vast majority of Georgia personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis and will only get paid if you win your case.

Think of your initial meeting like an interview — you are interviewing the attorney and the attorney is interviewing you. A bad lawyer can kill your case so be sure you are comfortable with the lawyer’s skills and professional accomplishments before you agree to hire his or her firm. It is a huge red flag if the attorney sends an investigator or paralegal to meet with you during the initial consultation. Stay away from attorneys that don’t attend initial consultations because they are likely too busy to handle your case if they can’t make time for an initial consultation.

During your initial meeting, you will share details and talk about your accident or injury. The attorney should be listening carefully to determine whether they can help you, and whether you have a valid claim. When sitting face-to-face with the attorney, you can get a feel for who they are and how they might work. Don’t overlook this point because you are entrusting them with your case.

What to Expect During a Consultation with a Personal Injury Lawyer

During the consultation, you can expect to discuss the facts of your case, any evidence you may have, whether the facts of your case meet the legal requirements for a lawsuit, and your eligibility for any compensation. You should also discuss the steps involved in bringing a personal injury case as well as things you should and should not do in regards to your injury.

The Facts

An attorney will need to know the events that led to your accident or injury. Where you were, what you were doing, your relationship to the defendant, were you driving, were you a pedestrian, what sort of vehicles were involved, were there any warning signs of danger, was the floor wet, and many other facts that help create a picture of what happened. If you took notes immediately after your accident, this is one instance where they will be valuable.

Evidence

An attorney should not expect you to have every single bit of evidence at this stage in your case; however, do share with the attorney contact information for any witnesses, photos of the scene, police reports, medical records, and any other proof to support your case.

Legal Requirements

This is the part of the conversation where the attorney will assess whether the at-fault party should be required to pay you damages. If the facts of your case don’t meet the legal requirement to file a lawsuit, the attorney should let you know. At this stage, the attorney has only your version of the facts to go on, so you should answer all of their questions honestly and truthfully.

Compensation

If you have met the legal requirements for a lawsuit, the attorney will go over the types of compensation you may be awarded, either in a settlement or if you win your case at trial.

You should also discuss the importance of identifying all sources of insurance because the vast majority of defendants in Georgia personal injury cases do not have enough assets to pay a substantial judgment.

For More Information, Contact Williams Elleby

Our attorneys are here to help you figure out what to do next. If you have been injured in Georgia and have questions about the law and the facts of your case, contact Williams Elleby to schedule a free consultation by calling 833-LEGALGA.ld

Metro Atlanta Truck Driver Fell Asleep before Bus Crash that Killed 13 in California

fatigued driving crash injured

One year after a crash in California that left 13 dead and 30 others injured, authorities arrested the truck driver deemed to be responsible in Georgia. The truck driver put his truck in park when the freeway he was on was shut down in the early morning due to construction. He fell asleep. When the freeway reopened, the driver didn’t wake up and his truck remained stationery as traffic began zooming past. The dangerous situation ended in tragedy when a bus traveling at more than 75 mph slammed into the truck. The driver was arrested on vehicular manslaughter and gross negligence charges.

Truck drivers are supposed to sleep a certain number of hours for every day that they work, but authorities believe that the driver chose to keep driving through that time. The driver is believed to have violated federal regulations by driving too many hours and attempting to hide the violations by falsifying his daily driver’s log.

THE DANGERS OF FATIGUED DRIVING

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that there are roughly 72,000 accidents caused by drowsy driving each year, resulting in an estimated 41,000 injuries and more than 800 deaths. According to the NHTSA:

Drowsy driving is not just falling asleep at the wheel – it is impairment that in many ways mimics driving when drunk. Drowsiness leads to slower reaction times, and impaired attention, mental processing, judgment, and decision making. Drowsiness can occur from accumulating sleep debt (typically <6 hours a night) across multiple nights, or from only one night of not sleeping.

Crashes caused by fatigued truck drivers can happen anytime, but occur most frequently late at night or early in the morning. Research has also shown that young drivers are nearly twice as likely to be drowsy at the time of a crash. But the demographic most likely to drive drowsy are truck drivers, who are often pressured to work long hours at a time and drive multiple days in a week. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration limits the number of hours that truck drivers are allowed to be on the road each day and week; however it is all too common for truck drivers and trucking companies to ignore these regulations.

The United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has determined that the “risk, danger, and often tragic results of drowsy driving are alarming.” Shockingly, in a survey conducted by the CDC, 4% of drivers stated that they fell asleep behind the wheel in the past 30 days. Drivers should always make sure they have been getting enough sleep before going on long trips, and should prioritize remaining alert when on the road. Drowsy driving isn’t a risk worth taking. Remember, if you think you might be too sleepy to drive, you are almost certainly too sleepy to drive.

For More Information, Contact Williams Elleby

Williams Elleby, is dedicated to helping truck accident victims get justice. If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident, Williams Elleby, can help you understand your legal rights and options. Call today to schedule a free consultation at 833-LEGALGA. You can also find more helpful information on the dangers of drowsy driving at http://drowsydriving.org.

Williams Elleby Welcomes Chase Elleby And Shannon Sullins To Our Team

Chase Elleby and Shannon Sullins at Williams Elleby

We are excited to announce that Chase Elleby and Shannon Sullins have joined Williams Elleby, a premier personal injury and wrongful death firm in Cobb County, Georgia.

CHASE ELLEBY

Chase was raised in Kennesaw, Georgia where he graduated from Kennesaw Mountain High School. After high school, Chase attended Florida State University  earning dual degrees in Political Science and Social Science. Chase then studied law at Georgia State University College of Law where he earned his Juris Doctor degree.

After graduating from law school, Chase worked for a well-known defense firm in Marietta before choosing to represent individuals and their families who have been injured by someone else’s negligence. In the past two years, Chase used his negotiation and trial skills to recover over $4,500,000.00 for his clients. As a former insurance defense lawyer, Chase knows the tricks insurance companies use to minimize the amount they should pay in settlements. Chase works hard to maximize every recovery for his clients.

If you would like to learn more about Chase, you can find him on the web at: Chase Elleby Linkedin

SHANNON SULLINS

Shannon grew up in a military family and traveled the United States as a child. She eventually ended up in Warner Robins, Georgia after her father was transferred to Robins Air Force Base.   Shannon graduated from Houston County High School and the University of Georgia where she obtained a degree in Scientific Illustration. After graduation, Shannon attended a Medical Illustration program at the Cleveland Institute of Art where she expanded her knowledge of art, anatomy and medicine through medical classes at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine.

After graduate school Shannon began working at Nucleus Medical Media as a Medical Illustrator and Animator where she gained over 9 years of experience in the field of Medical Legal Illustration. Shannon’s education and experience as a medical illustrator provided her with extensive knowledge of the human body and injuries commonly seen car accidents, slip and falls, and medical negligence lawsuits. Shannon’s primary responsibility for the firm will be to work with clients and attorneys to gather, analyze, and organize medical records and bills for settlement and trial.

If you would like to learn more about Shannon, you can find her on the web at: Shannon Sullins Linkedin

GEORGIA PERSONAL INJURY AND WRONGFUL DEATH LAWYERS

If you or a loved one have been injured due to the negligence of another, call Williams Elleby today at 833-LEGALGA. Trial Lawyer Joel Williams and Attorney Chase Elleby provide free consultations and will help you understand all of your legal options.

Our firm is located at 3900 Frey Road, NW, Suite 104, Kennesaw, Cobb County, Georgia 30144 but we handle cases throughout Georgia and Alabama. We will come to you if you are unable to travel to our office for any reason. You can also email any of our attorneys or staff with any questions you may have about your injury case:

Attorney Joel Williams: Joel@gatrialattorney.com

Attorney Chase Elleby: Chase@gatrialattorney.com

Office Manager Karen Cheney: Karen@gatrialattorney.com

Paralegal Shannon Sullins: Shannon@gatrialattorney.com