Liens and UM Coverage

Question: Does an air ambulance or Medicaid lien attach to a UM payout?

Answer: At one time, the result would have been different, but now physician’s liens (under 42 O.S. 46), hospital liens (under 42 O.S. 43) and ambulance liens (under 42 O.S. 49, which will cover the air evac claim) apply to claims “against an insurer.” And, under St. Francis Hosp. v. Vaughn, 1998 OK CIV APP 167, 971 P.2d 401, the lien attaches to the funds in the hands of the lawyer. If the lawyer pays out without notifying the lien claimants and getting agreement or a judicial ruling as to who is entitled to how much of the funds, the lawyer has an ethical violation under State ex rel. Oklahoma Bar Association v. Bedford, 1997 OK 83; 956 P.2d 148 and State ex rel. Oklahoma Bar Association v. Taylor, 2003 OK 56, 71 P.3d 18 and may be civilly liable under St. Francis Hosp. v. Vaughn.