Charles Gifford and his namesake granddaughter, Charley.

The first legal document has been filed with the courts in connection with the tragic death of Charles Gifford, but it didn’t come from the insurance company or the victim’s family.

It came from the hospital.

Mr. Gifford, 75, was killed early May 9 when his pickup swerved off the road, through a chain link fence and into a tree after being struck from behind by Joseph King. King, 35, was arrested and charged with Negligent Criminal Homicide, Possession of a Controlled Substance, and Possession of Marijuana in connection with the crash.

On May 26, the hospital where Mr. Gifford was taken following the crash filed a lien against any liability claim — meaning any insurance money Mr. Gifford’s family receives.

“… (Y)ou are hereby notified that any and all funds recovered from a liable third party shall not be disbursed prior to resolution of our client’s outstanding charges,” reads a letter from the hospital’s attorney which was sent to the victim’s family.

Which means the hospital claims it has to get paid first before anything else.

“It’s the ultimate adding salt to the open wound story,” said attorney Jeff Weinstein. “Mr. Gifford is an automobile collision. He’s taken to the hospital even though he was probably dead at the scene. A month later the hospital sends a lien to him saying you owe money for the hospital visit. The lien has to be paid even before the family can recover any money to pay for the funeral.”

Apparently, the hospital does not know what happened to Mr. Gifford, who was their patient if only for a short time. The lien filed by the hospital’s attorney lists the injury as “unknown” and the liable party as “unknown.”

But that didn’t stop the hospital’s attorney from threatening to “immediately file litigation for any balance due” if necessary.

“The hospital doesn’t know he died, even though they say they provided medical attention to him? That’s just wrong,” said Mr. Weinstein.

The Gifford family has given Weinstein Law permission to document their story in the hopes that it may help others in the same situation. Read all of the stories here.