by Kim C. Stanger, Holland & Hart LLP
Idaho law allows hospitals and other healthcare providers to file a lien to help secure payment of treatment to persons who have been involved in an accident or who might otherwise be entitled to recovery from a third party for injuries the patient suffers. The lien statute is, however, limited in scope and must be strictly followed to enforce the lien.
Medical Liens. Idaho’s medical lien statutes allow hospitals,1 nursing care providers,2 and other entities licensed to practice medicine3 to file a lien “for the reasonable charges for … care, treatment and maintenance of an injured person, … or to the legal representative of such person, on account of injuries” caused by another person.4 Significantly, the lien statutes do not apply charges for care rendered to all patients; instead, they only apply to charges for care rendered to patients who were injured by the actions of another person (e.g., auto accidents, personal injury cases, assault and battery, etc.). Also, the lien statutes do not enable the healthcare provider to file or enforce a lien against the patient’s own property; instead, the lien gives the healthcare provider a right to recover against the person or entity causing the patient’s injuries (the “tortfeasor”). The net effect is that the tortfeasor (or their insurer) will want to ensure that the provider is paid as part of any personal injury settlement, or the tortfeasor may remain directly liable to the provider for the cost of the provider’s care. The lien does not apply to accidents or injuries that are covered by workers compensation.5