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What to do when facing a lawsuit for unpaid medical expenses

Suffering a serious injury or illness is bad enough, but the financial aftermath of such situations can be absolutely devastating. Many people in Montgomery and nationwide carry some sort of medical debt, and some of them may be in the difficult position of realizing that they are unable to pay their medical bills. In fact, according to one source, around 50 percent of items listed as being in debt collections in the United States consist of medical debt. Things go from bad to worse when debt collectors start calling, and especially if they file a lawsuit. However, there are things people in such situations can do to protect their interests.

First, a person should understand what they are being billed for. It's possible to look back at past invoices to determine when the medical care took place, what services were performed and for how much. Since mistakes in billing can happen, thoroughly examining your bills can help uncover possible savings.

Of course, being sued is scary, but something a person shouldn't do is simply ignore the lawsuit. It is important if you are being sued to consult with an attorney. In addition, once sued a person must answer the lawsuit before the first court date. In the answer, a person can include any defenses they have in their favor and can countersue if they wish. Having an attorney's advice can be especially valuable if a person no longer resides in the state in which the lawsuit was filed.

Finally, those facing a lawsuit due to unpaid medical debt may want to consider filing for bankruptcy. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing, a person will liquidate their property in order to pay off their debts, leaving them with a clean financial slate. In a Chapter 13 filing, a person will enter into a three to five-year repayment plan to address their debts. This means that while they won't lose their property, they will still be responsible for paying back at least some of their debts.

In the end, there are ways to handle being sued for unpaid medical debt. The advice of an attorney can be of the utmost importance in such situations.

Source:, "Before you respond to a medical debt lawsuit, take these 10 steps," Sept. 29, 2017

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Mathis, Bates & Klinghard PLLC
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