can a company sue you if you are making low monthly payments?

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can a company sue you if you are making low monthly payments?

My husband and I were sending monthly payments on our medical bill (10 to 20 dollars,) more if we have it.This company (hospital) just sent it to a collection agency. We sent them money toward this bill and they sent us a letter stating that we have ignored paying this debt in full and that they are advising their client to sue us. We don’t pretend that this is owed and we are making a effort every month.

Asked on May 10, 2009 under Business Law, Illinois

Answers:

B. B., Member, New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

I am assuming, here, that you did not talk to the hospital to set up an agreed payment plan, you simply started making the payments, as you could.  So the hospital would be within its rights to sue you.

Collection agencies get paid, usually, based on a percentage of the money they collect.  The faster they can collect a debt, with less time and expense (fewer letters and postage, etc.), the higher their profit.  Collection agencies are very limited in what they can threaten you with, but recommending that their client sue you is one thing that is available to them.  Their letter to you was almost certainly a form letter, and they probably send the same letter to everyone whose account they get.

Hospitals don't usually sue people who are making some reasonable effort to pay their bill.  Whether $10 to $20 monthly is reasonable would depend, of course, on the size of the bill, since your payments should be enough to finish off the bill within a few years at most.

In most states, there are resources for people who genuinely cannot pay their hospital bills.  You might start with the hospital's business office;  they might be willing to work with you if you talk to them, even though they have sent the account to collection.

If you are sued, you might want to consider some form of bankruptcy relief or debt consolidation program.  One place you can find a bankruptcy lawyer is our website, http://attorneypages.com


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