If you are sued, can assets be taken from youdue toa huge medical bill?

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If you are sued, can assets be taken from youdue toa huge medical bill?

I received a summons for a helicopter ride to the hospital for $14,500 from a collections/attorney’s office. The collections/attorney’s office picked up the bill about 6 months ago. I have been paying $10 a month due to having a special needs child and trying to get her the help that she needs. I explained this to the them and have been sending them the $10 a month. They have been cashing the checks. Now I do not know what to expect regarding the summons.

Asked on September 20, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

1) While a creditor can agree to a payment plan, they don't have to--they are legally entitled to payment in full when due. Unless they have actually agreed in writing to the payment schedule, anything they receive in the interim they can apply to the account withiout affecting their right to pursue the rest  of the money. So even if they have been cashing the checks, they are allowed to sue you if there's an outstanding, overdue balance--which there is. Since it would take 1,450 months, or 120 years, to pay the amount off at the rate you've been doing it--that's even without piling up--it's no surprise  they consider it inadquate.

2) If  they sue you and win and you still don't pay, they can look for court orders garnishing money in bank accounts, garnishing wages (though certain kinds of income, like some forms public assistance, are usually exempt from garnishment), putting a lien on real property, and/or looking to execute on--or force a sale of, for their benefit--other belongings of ours. So yes, in some case, assets can be taken owing to huge medical bill.

3) Creditors do not need to consider the cause of your financial distress. From a legal point of view, the fact you are trying to get help for a special needs child doesn't  matter.

4) You may need to consider bankruptcy as an option. Bankruptcy would very likely discharge, or eliminate, this debt. You should try to consult with a bankruptcy attorney. Good luck.


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