Under Nevada law provides statutory authority for hospitals to place a lien on certain insurance proceeds. NRS 108.590 provides that "Whenever any person receives hospitalization on account of any injury, and he, or his personal representative after his death, claims damages from the person responsible for causing the injury, the hospital has a lien upon any sum awarded the injured person or his 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."
This statutory lien provision does not extend to underinsured motorist coverage, although in some states hospital liens do attach to UM coverage. Why not in Nevada?
The Nevada Supreme Court addressed the issue in Washoe Medical Center, Inc. v. Reliance Ins. Co., 112 Nev. 494 (1996). There, the Court articulated why hospital liens do not attach to first-party UM coverage.
The Court noted that the express language of the statute does not authorize attachment to UM coverage. NRS 108.590, quoted above, refers to "damages from the person responsible for causing the injury." An injured party’s own insurance provider, through which received UM coverage, cannot be included as a person responsible for causing the injury. Thus, the Court concluded that "hospital liens do not attach unless an injured person claims damages from the third-party tortfeasor and the injured person is subsequently awarded damages pursuant to a judgment, settlement or compromise with the third-party tortfeasor or the third-party tortfeasor’s insurance carrier."
Steve is the Managing Shareholder of Steven J. Klearman & Associates, a civil litigation law firm located in Reno, Nevada. He practices primarily in the areas of civil litigation and injury law, and has authored one of the definitive guides to Nevada civil law that is widely used by Nevada judges and attorneys, his book entitled Elements of Nevada Legal Theories.