If I go to court will they give me a payment plan regarding an unpaid bill?

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If I go to court will they give me a payment plan regarding an unpaid bill?

I got summons today for an unpaid hospital bill. The number I called told me I had to go to court they wouldn’t do a payment plan over the phone, if I went through them I had to pay in full. I am just now back on my feet after 3 weeks out of surgery. Ive never been to court before and worried if they will take my car or what can they do? I don’t have the kind of money they want right now.

Asked on October 26, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Kansas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

No, a court will not give you a payment plan, if the creditor (the hospital) or its representative (e.g. a collections agency) won't voluntarily agree to one. A creditor owed money which is past due is under no legal obligation to accept a payment plan or schedule--it can insist on payment in full of all amounts due immediately. A judge can certainly try to mediate and suggest to a creditor to take a payment plan, but can't force them to.

If you sued are lose, and then still do not or cannot pay, in most states, the creditor could get a court order garnishing wages (i.e. having some of your income sent to it, though many forms of public benifits are exempt). They could also levy on a bank account (get money from your bank account), put a lien on real property, or potentially execute on (force the sale of) vehicles or other belongings, though there are usually some exemptions or limitations on their ability to do that, depending on the value of the asset and your state.


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