What can happen to me if I owe back medical bills?

UPDATED: Jun 1, 2011

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What can happen to me if I owe back medical bills?

A hospital is suing me for unpaid bilsl. All I have of worth is my home and 2 cars, which totalled together wouldn’t add up to enough to cover what I owe. The bills are from 2005-2008 and total, with lawyers fees, about $40,000. I have been to this hospital many times before and after this suit and have never paid the bill before, nor have I ever had insurance. They gave me a card to present in 2001 that would cover any visits to this hospital. I have told them every time that I have no money and cannot afford to pay, yet they still make me sign a ton of forms promising to pay. I never read these papers so I’m ill when I get them. Now the hospital’s lawyers have sent me all of the forms that I signed. What action can they take?

Asked on June 1, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You can be sued--saying that you didn't read the forms is no defense whatsoever. If you received medical treatment (or any service), you have to pay for it. Perhaps you are "judgment proof," in the sense of not having anything they can take--though they may be able to garnish wages, put a lien on your home, possibly force the sale of the cars, etc.

You may wish to consider bankruptcy as an option. Bankruptcy should enable you to discharge these debts. You ought to consult with a bankruptcy attorney, to see whether bankruptcy--and which form, Chapter 7 (liquidation of assets) or Chapter 13 (3 - 5 payment plan) is right for you. Good luck.

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