Summoned to Court for Medical Bills? What to Do Next

George Simons

March 04, 2021

Debt collectors thinking it's a noble quest to take your money. ^

Summary: If you experienced a medical emergency, you likely got stuck with a hefty medical bill, even with insurance. Why should you pay for it for the rest of your life? Find out how to respond to a debt collection lawsuit over unpaid medical bills.

Let's face it: Medical bills can be more confusing than your high school trigonometry class. Whether you go to the hospital for an accident, illness, or an unexpected emergency, that stay can leave you with a big pile of bills and a whole lot of confusion about how you are going to pay them.

So, what should you do if you experience a medical catastrophe and find yourself being summoned to court for medical bills? Start by understanding your rights, your resources, and your reasonable courses of action to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Know your rights

Life is full of good and bad surprises. It's safe to say that a suit for medical bills falls under the category of bad surprises.

But there is good news. You have rights and avenues to protect yourself. These protections include the No Surprises Act. Beginning in 2022, this legislation will enact key protections for consumers against the potentially high cost of unanticipated out-of-network medical bills. Because surprise medical emergencies can happen anywhere, including areas where patients will have little to no say in the care they receive, this act protects citizens from outrageous unexpected out-of-network bills that would otherwise result from such care. Among other things, this new legislation offers specific guarantees:

  • Health plans will cover unexpected bills at in-network rates
  • Balance billing will be prohibited
  • Excess charges from out-of-network providers will be done away
  • Specific oversight and enforcement activities will be required

As we wait for this legislation to take effect in 2022, remember you currently have the following rights according to the National Consumer Law Center:

  • You can stop harassment from collectors by sending a letter asking them to stop. Federal law mandates that collectors don't call a person once they have sent a letter asking them to stop
  • You are entitled to call the hospital or care facility and explain your inability to pay and work something out early with them
  • In the event of another emergency, a hospital can never turn you away from their emergency room, no matter what you owe
  • You have the right to call your insurance company for clarification on your explanation of benefits (EOB) and to scrutinize it against your bill to find any erroneous charges and have them removed

Unpaid medical bills can become a burden. Remember that you have rights. Exercise them freely and without guilt, and understand what actions can and cannot be legally taken against you.

Make the right defense with SoloSuit.

Understand your resources

One of the greatest misconceptions about medical debt is that there is one way out: their way. If you believe this, you could not be more wrong. You have a myriad of options to help you get out from under medical debt before or even during proceedings of a suit:

  • Payment plans. Often collectors or medical facilities are willing to work with you on a fair payment plan if you proactively contact them.
  • Self-negotiation. In some instances, you can negotiate your way into a lower bill by telling the facility what you are currently able to pay in cash.
  • Scrutinize the bill. Carefully review what you were billed for, and look for incorrect charges.
  • Get an advocate. There are firms and practitioners who specialize in resolving medical debt who can work with you to help you find the best way to settle your debt without ruining your finances.
  • Apply for a hardship loan. Depending on your income bracket and financial situation, you may qualify for a hardship exemption.
  • Bankruptcy. Because medical bills are considered unsecured debt, filing for bankruptcy can alleviate medical debts, though this does carry personal consequences on your credit score, your ability to obtain a future loan, and even denial of tax refunds.

There are many ways to free yourself from medical debt and the strain of a court summons. You must find the one that works best for you and your circumstances. Don't allow collectors or medical facilities to corner you into doing things their way without first exploring and understanding all your resources.

Respond to debt collectors fast with SoloSuit.

Take the right actions to resolve a medical debt lawsuit

If you are summoned to court for unpaid medical debt, you need to know the right actions to take. Start with these steps:

  1. Never ignore the summons. Instead, respond in the given timeframe and follow instructions provided by the court. SoloSuit makes it easy to respond.
  2. Consider reaching out to the collectors to reach a settlement for a lower amount.
  3. Review your bank accounts frequently to monitor if the collectors are trying to garnish your wages to pay off the debt.

If you fail to respond to a complaint filed against you in the given time, a default judgment may be filed against you. While this does alter your course of action, you still have options. There are many ways to legally protect yourself and your assets:

  1. Proving you did not receive documentation from the court or from the medical facility about the outstanding medical debt
  2. Providing evidence that you had reason to believe that your health insurance company had paid or would pay the medical bill
  3. Challenging the judgment on grounds of error, mismanagement, or excusable neglect
  4. Pursuing debt relief by filing for bankruptcy

Having a judgment filed against you is not an ideal situation, but it still provides avenues for you to find relief. As with the other cases mentioned above, your best defense will be a proactive approach of clear and frequent communication between you, the medical facility, your insurance provider, and your legal counsel to find an agreeable way to resolve your debt.

There are times when we cannot control what happens to us. While those situations can be painful and emotionally draining, what happens next does not have to be. No matter what your financial situation may be or what actions may be taken against your medical debt, you have options.

Don't let an emergency overwhelm you. Remember your rights, your resources, and reasonable next steps to avoid the pitfalls of a medical debt suit.

What is SoloSuit?

SoloSuit makes it easy to respond to a debt collection lawsuit.

How it works: SoloSuit is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your answer. Upon completion, you can either print the completed forms and mail in the hard copies to the courts or you can pay SoloSuit to file it for you and to have an attorney review the document.

Respond with SoloSuit

"First time getting sued by a debt collector and I was searching all over YouTube and ran across SoloSuit, so I decided to buy their services with their attorney reviewed documentation which cost extra but it was well worth it! SoloSuit sent the documentation to the parties and to the court which saved me time from having to go to court and in a few weeks the case got dismissed!" – James

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