Guest blog: Debt Collectors Seeking Unpaid Medical Bills Due to Personal Injury Claims
Guest blog post by Jason Krumbein:
In a personal injury case you must prove that you suffered damages which almost always includes medical bills that are owed to ambulances, hospitals, doctors, and rehabilitation centers.
Not everyone has spectacular health insurance that immediately pays for all medical bills. Most of us have the kind of insurance that takes a while, and then pays only a portion of the medical bill. Unfortunately many personal injury victims do not have any health insurance. Combined with being out of work due to personal injuries, these medical bills are insurmountable to many clients.
What do you do when you have medical bills and you don’t have the cash to pay them?
The first thing to do is to be honest with yourself and your lawyer. Tell your lawyer that you have these bills, so he can make sure you are protected. Most lawyers have a letter of protection and they are happy to send that letter out to the debt collectors to encourage them to delay collection efforts and to protect you from the abusive collection practices. After all, the point of the lawsuit is to have the other driver’s insurance pay the hospital bills, and other expenses that you incur in addition to compensating you for your pain and suffering and lost income.
The second thing to do is to gather information for your lawyer. When the debt collectors call, your lawyer is not a mind reader. He needs to know who to send his protection letters to in order to protect you. Here is a link to a sample form that you can use to track the calls.
Third, tell the debt collectors, when they call, that you have a lawyer, and your lawyer’s name, address, phone and fax number. Make sure you keep track of the fact that you told this information to the collector on your tracking form.
If you going alone without a lawyer (rarely a good idea), you should follow up with the debt collectors in writing. If you have a lawyer and you dispute the debt, remind the debt collector that this debt is a disputed debt, that it is subject to a personal injury claim, and that all further communications should be with your lawyer. Here is a sample letter advising the debt collector you have a lawyer, and asking for validation, or detailed information about the debt. We usually recommend that you send the letter by certified mail, return receipt requested because you can then easily prove that you sent it and they received it.
From there, the debt collector should be leaving you alone. If the debt collector continues to contact you, you need to let your lawyer know, and he may well discuss what to do at that point, including suing the debt collectors for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Attorney Jason Krumbein is a good friend and colleague of Josh Silverman. Jason is a solo practitioner at Krumbein Consumer Legal Services, Inc in Richmond, Virginia. Jason focuses his practice on representing consumers with problems with abusive debt collectors, credit report errors, and bankruptcy. For more information about Jason Krumbein, please visit his website at www.KrumbeinLaw.com or call him at (804) 303.0204.
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