If I am being sued by a collection agency for unpaid medical bills, how do I best prepare for the hearing?

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If I am being sued by a collection agency for unpaid medical bills, how do I best prepare for the hearing?

The problems began when the clinic changed its policies and forced clients to go to groups instead of individual therapy. This was traumatic for me and caused harm, including a hospitalization and job loss. Also, their bills made no sense and I realized that they were riddled with errors including wrong dates of service, providers, billing codes, etc. The clinic refused to sit down with me and give me account of where my money went/fix errors. I stopped paying the bill until they did; they sent me to collections. Now collections is suing me; court date in few weeks. How do I defend myself in court?

Asked on August 3, 2011 Oregon

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You should retain an attorney to help you, since there is no easy answer to your question.

The problem is, if you accepted the services, you have to pay for them. If you signed any agreements, etc. (such as for the services) you are bound by them. Adults are required to understand what they are accepting or signing, and are obligated to pay for any services or goods they receive, or to honor their debts and other obligations.

You only need to pay correct amounts, which you had in fact agreed to, so you may well be able to dispute any bills that are wrong, too high, not what you agreed to pay or not for services you actually accepted. An attorney can help you sort through this (and if necessary, get more documentation or information) and determine what you actually need to pay and what you don't.

If fraud was committed--basically, you were knowingly lied to, to get you to agree to services or obligations which you would not have accepted had the truth been known--you may be able to challenge those charges on those grounds; again, and attorney can help you do this.

*Possibly* if you were sufficiently mentally impaired--basically incompetent, even if only temporarily--you may be able to void certain charges on that ground. It is doubtful you can show this, since it does require a considerable degree of impairment, but is worth discussing with an attorney.

Note that simply not understanding a bill is of no help; again, you have an oblilgation to make sure you understand your transactions.


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