Court Holds Health-Care Lien Appropriate in Underinsured Motorist Claim

The Illinois Appellate Court weighed the application of the Illinois Health-Care Services Lien Act in an underinsured-motorist case. On Nov. 5, 2009, in Murphysboro, Ill., a car driven by Lori Maramba crossed the center line and struck a vehicle driven by David McRoberts. Caitlyn McRoberts and Kim McRoberts were passengers with David McRoberts, all of whom suffered injuries and damages. The defendant had a liability insurance coverage limit of $50,000. The McRoberts family collected all of that and additionally made claim under their underinsured-motorist benefits policy. The underinsurance allowed for the payment of an additional $50,000 to the McRoberts family.

The medical bills paid to the McRoberts family exceeded the settlement. That included the payment of both the tortfeasor’s insurance policy and the McRoberts family’s underinsurance policy.The total amount of the medical bills incurred was in excess of $321,000. 

Several of the health-care providers filed liens in compliance with the Health-Care Services Lien Act. The plaintiffs, the McRoberts family, filed a petition to adjudicate the medical liens on Dec. 1, 2011. The trial court held a hearing on the petition on Dec. 9, 2011. The trial judge allowed for application of the Health-Care Services Lien Act wherein 40% of the settlement amount of both the underlying tortfeasor insurance policy and the underinsurance were applied at 40% of the settlement. That means 40% of the $50,000 of the underinsurance policy was also distributed in proportional shares to the lien holders who had filed appearances with the court.

The plaintiffs in the case contended that because the Health-Care Services Lien Act is a creature of statute, its liens are limited in operation to the terms included in the statute.

On the other hand, the defendant maintained that the liens did not exist at common law and that the legislature maintained the power to provide for liens to secure debts. The Act allows that the total amount of all liens under the provision shall not exceed 40% of the verdict, judgment, award, settlement or compromise secured by or on behalf of the injured person on his or her claim or right of action.  770 ILCS 23/10(a).

The court, applying an analogous case of medical-payments coverage, found that the Illinois Health-Care Services Lien Act did apply to the underinsurance policy, as well as the settlement received from the party at fault. Accordingly, the Illinois Appellate Court found that the trial court correctly held that the health-care lienholders were entitled to 40% of the underinsured motorist coverage.

McRoberts v. Porter, 2013 IL App. (5th) 120017 (June 13, 2013).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling automobile injury cases, truck injury cases and nursing home abuse cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 37 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Mount Prospect, Palatine, Oak Park, Chicago (Stockyards), Chicago (Hegewisch), Palos Hills, Crestwood, Burr Ridge, Blue Island, LaGrange Park, Round Beach Lake, Itasca and Bellwood, Ill.

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