January 4, 2024

Summoned to Court for Medical Bills? What to Do Next

Summoned to Court for Medical Bills What to Do Next ZumaZip Settle Debt

If you experienced a medical emergency, you likely got stuck with a hefty medical bill, even with insurance. Luckily, laws like the No Surprises Act protect you from unexpected medical expenses. You also have options to get out of medical debt, including payment plans, fighting the debt, applying for a hardship loan, etc. If you are sued for medical debt, ZumaZip.com can help you respond and win in court.

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, it 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 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 this legislations takes effect in 2022, remember you also 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.

Respond to a medical debt lawsuit with ZumaZip.com

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 of 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.
  • Check the statute of limitations. Each state has a statute of limitations for medical debt that sets a deadline for collectors to sue. If your debt has passed the statute of limitations, you can’t be taken to court for it.
  • 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.

Let’s take a look at how to fight off medical debt collectors.

Example: Jason is being sued for a medical debt in North Carolina. After doing some investigating into the debt, he realizes that he hasn’t made any payments on it for more than three years. Since the North Carolina statute of limitations on medical debt is three years, debt collectors have no right to take Jason to court for it. He uses ZumaZip.com to draft and file an Answer where he uses the statute of limitations as a defense. The case gets thrown out.

Respond to debt collectors fast with ZumaZip.com

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

Let’s take a look at another example.

Example: Martha is being sued by a debt collector for a debt she doesn’t recognize. She uses ZumaZip to respond. In her Answer document, Martha denies all the claims against her. The debt collection agency realizes they’ve made a mistake and have contacted the wrong person about the debt. They dismiss the case voluntarily, and Martha is off the hook.

Use ZumaZip to respond to your medical debt lawsuit

If you’re being sued for a medical debt, use follow these three steps to respond to the lawsuit:

  1. Respond to each claim listed in the Complaint.
  2. Assert your affirmative defenses.
  3. File the Answer with the court, and send a copy to the opposing attorney.

These three steps are tried and true. They can increase your chances of winning in court.

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. Increase the chances of winning your lawsuit by 7x with ZumaZip.com

What is ZumaZip?

ZumaZip is a convenient solution designed to streamline your response to a debt collection lawsuit. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect when you use ZumaZip:

Firstly, you’ll access our user-friendly web application, which guides you through the process step by step. You’ll be prompted to answer a series of questions related to your specific situation. Once you’ve completed the questionnaire, you have the option to either print out the finalized forms and mail them to the appropriate courts yourself, or you can opt to utilize ZumaZip’s services to file them on your behalf. Additionally, if you choose this option, an attorney will review your document for added peace of mind.

If you’re seeking guidance on how to effectively respond to a debt collection lawsuit, ZumaZip can provide the assistance you need. Feel free to explore our FAQs for more information on what ZumaZip has to offer.

What if I haven’t been sued yet?

If you’ve only received a collections notice, but not a lawsuit, the best way to respond is with a Debt Validation Letter. When a debt collector contacts you in any way, whether it’s by phone or mail, you can respond by formally requesting a debt validation with a Debt Validation Letter . This letter notifies the collector that you dispute the debt and forces them to provide proof you owe the debt. They can’t call you or continue collecting until they provide validation of the debt. This flowchart shows how you can use a Debt Validation Letter to win.

Get started with a Debt Validation Letter here.

How to Answer a Summons for debt collection in all 50 states

Here’s a list of guides on how to respond to a debt collection lawsuit in each state:

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Hey there! Facing off against a debt collector can feel like a daunting challenge, but fear not! We’re here to help you navigate through it all with our handy guides designed to assist you in beating every debt collector you encounter. Whether you’re facing a new lawsuit or dealing with a persistent collector, we’ve got your back. Stay positive, stay informed, and let’s tackle this together!

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