Strategies, Challenges, and Answers

Nevada Hospital Liens Do Not Apply To UM Recoveries

Image source: University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine

Kathryn Boyer was hurt in a motor vehicle accident with an uninsured driver.  Following the accident, she received treatment at Washoe Medical Center.

Kathryn had planned ahead and purchased uninsured motorist coverage with Reliance Insurance Company.  Reliance paid Kathryn UM benefits in spite of a Hospital Lien that had been served by Washoe Medical Center.

When Washoe Medical Center learned about the payment, it sought to foreclose the lien against Reliance hoping to recover the amount Reliance had paid to Kathryn.  Washoe Medical Center argued that Nevada’s Hospital Lien statute was broad enough to allow its lien to attach to Kathryn’s UM benefits.  Reliance argued that the language of NRS 108.590 was not broad enough to allow the hospital’s lien to apply against first-party recoveries like uninsured motorist benefits.

Nevada’s Liens of Hospital’s statute reads:

108.590. Extent of lien; exception; lien in addition to lien on property.

  1. Whenever any person receives hospitalization on account of any injury, and the injured person, or a personal representative after the person’s death, claims damages from the person responsible for causing the injury, the hospital has a lien upon any sum awarded the injured person or the personal representative by judgment or obtained by a settlement or compromise to the extent of the amount due the hospital for the reasonable value of the hospitalization rendered before the date of judgment, settlement or compromise.
  2. The lien provided by this section is:

(a) Not valid against anyone coming under the provisions of chapters 616A to 616D, inclusive, or chapter 617 of NRS.

(b) In addition to the lien provided by NRS 108.662. The statute read:

The District Court agreed with Reliance’s narrower reading of the statute and refused to foreclose the lien.

The Hospital appealed.  In Washoe Med. Ctr., Inc. v. Reliance Ins. Co., 112 Nev. 494, 915 P.2d 288 (1996), the Nevada Supreme Court agreed that the statute did not reach Kathryn’s UM benefits.

The Court said that the wording of the statute limited the statute’s effect to recoveries from the third-party tortfeasor.  The Court backed up that conclusion pointing out that if the legislature had intended Hospital Liens to reach UM benefits, it would have included the UM carrier on the list of those who were required to be given notice under NRS 108.610.  The legislature did not include the UM carrier on that notice list.

If you have questions about this or any of the articles on the Nevada Law Blogs, please contact Mike Mills at Bauman, Loewe, Witt & Maxwell, 702-240-6060.  Or send an email to mmills@blwmlawfirm.com.

Michael Mills About Michael Mills

Mr. Mills practices in the area of civil litigation and appeals, with particular experience in matters involving trucking liability, insurance defense, insurance coverage, premises liability, products liability and defense of personal injury. Mr. Mills is a member of the Trucking Insurance Defense Association, the Defense Research Institute Trucking Committee and the Nevada Motor Transport Association. Mr. Mills is licensed to practice before the Nevada Supreme Court and the Utah Supreme Court. He is also licensed to appear before the United States Supreme Court, the U.S. District Courts for the Districts of Nevada and Utah, as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Mr. Mills has created 3 Blogs for the benefit of the insurance industry. He serves as editor and publisher of the Nevada Insurance Law Blog, the Nevada Coverage and Bad Faith Blog and the Nevada Trucking Law Blog.

 
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