Hospital bill in collections going to court

My husband has a hospital bill for $900 in collections and is being taken to court. He doesn’t have a job and is on VA disability. The collection company wants $3500 for this bill. Can they garnish my wages since I’m the working one or can they garnish his VA money?

Asked on December 30, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, Washington

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Generally speaking, creditors can not garnish your disability benefits.  So your Husband's VA disability payments are safe here.  Also generally speaking you are not responsible for the medical bills of your spouse.  However, there are exceptions to this rule.  One of them comes in to play when you live in a community property state which you do in Washington.  Then if the bill is incurred during the marriage it can be viewed as a joint debt.  Also, if you agreed to pay the bill by signing anything when he was admitted to the hospital you could be liable.  Finally, if your state has enacted in to law the common law "doctrine of Necessities" you could also be liable. Check with an attorney in your state.  Also, $3500 sounds like a lot for what was originally a small bill.  You need to get help validating the debt to make sure the collection agency has a right to collect it and to negotiate it down. 


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