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Sunday, May 11, 2008
Sued for a hospital bill
My wife is being sued for a medical bill not paid for in Florida. The bill was for Feb 2003, for having her son. She had insurance at the time and her sons father had it as well. Now we live in North Carolina and she was served last week (4/20) for $2000.00 and has to be in court on 6/4 in Florida. We all feel she shouldn't pay since the insurance and we never received a bill or collection notice until being served by a police officer the other day. What do we do?

Answer: I can well understand your feelings over the billing problem resulting in your getting a summons but now you need to look at it the same way the court will look at it.

The court has only one interest and that is getting their docket cleared. That will only happen when the court has rendered it's verdict.
Most of the time the verdict is that the defendant owes the money the plaintiff claims is owed and the attorney gets his pay.

It is up to you to either let them do it to you or put up a credible defense to the plaintiff's complaint. So what will your defense be? Will you claim you don't owe the money? Will you claim that the insurance company is the one they should sue and not you?

That won't work because your wife and stepson did get the treatments and care and that can be proven. The medical facility is covered because the agreement signed at the time of treatment said that if the insurance didn't pay she or someone would be responsible for payment of the bill.

If the insurance company didn't pay when they were supposed to that is between you and the insurance company, not between you and the hospital. They don't care who pays, just so they get paid. So it seems that you have no defense against their claim. That means that they will get a judgment no matter what you do or say. You can and should attempt to delay the process to the greatest extent possible.

You do that by filing a response to the court within the time allotted you by the summons. So what will your response be? Will you prepare the response so it will be acceptable to the court or will you waste even more money by hiring an attorney who can do you little or no good
because you don't have a defense?

Of course you could just pay the debt and be done with it if you have the funds to do that but if you don't then you might want to think about alternatives to paying the debt.

It is common knowledge that the best defense is a strong offense and that is what you need to resolve your problem. If you want to keep from getting a judgment against you and your wages garnished or your bank accounts frozen and garnished or property seized to pay the debt then you need a strong offense rather than thinking about a defense which really doesn't exist.

You need to start the offense by first of all going to the courthouse and asking to see all the paperwork in the case. Check to see if there are other documents that you didn't get when you were served.

You will want to pay special attention to any affidavits that might be in the paperwork. If there are any they are usually fertile grounds for formulating a strong offense because they usually contain false and misleading information or are improperly written so as to qualify for affidavit status under the rules of procedure.

If an affidavit is present who was the notary that stamped the affidavit in what state are they authorized to be a notary? If not your own state, why not? Why would a local company go to some other state to find a notary to sign the affidavit? Maybe the debt was bought by a debt collector and now you have a false and fictitious plaintif who is not the party of first interest in the case.

If there is no affidavit then who is going to show up at the trial and does the affiant have first hand knowledge about the treatments and medications your wife and stepson received so she can ask them questions about that or about why they didn't file a timely claim with the insurance company so they could have been paid promptly?

Are there any false or misleading statements in the documents? If so then you might want to think about filing a federal lawsuit against the attorney. You can't file a federal case against the hospital so it would have to be against the attorney for the hospital because he is a 3rd party debt collector.

Maybe you have a statute of limitations defense. When was your stepson born and what state do you live in? If they waited too long to file the lawsuit then you can use a statute of limitations defense. If they waited too long you can win the case easily and then sue them for misrepresenting the legal status of the debt.

Finding their violations of the law is the key to mounting a strong enough offense to make them want to forget about getting any money out of you and maybe even paying you for your time and trouble.

Filing a proper response to the court for the least possible cost then follow that up with interrogatories, admissions and demand for production of documents is the only realistic way to go about preparing your defense and a strong offense.

So what are you going to do now? Pay up and be done with it or waste money on an attorney or start learning how to defend and hopefully come up with a good strong offense in the process? You tell me.

Bill Bauer

Creditwrench message forum

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