What will happen ifI don’t pay my hospital bill?

UPDATED: Feb 11, 2012

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What will happen ifI don’t pay my hospital bill?

I was misled into thinking I had insurance that would cover my hospital visit. Now I have a $2130 bill from them. I’ve called time and time to say that I don’t have the money but they just don’t care.

Asked on February 11, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, California


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you don't pay the hospital bill, it will be sent to collections.  If the collection agency is unsuccessful in obtaining your payment, the hospital will file a lawsuit against you.  Until you are served with the summons and complaint, you don't need to do anything.  When you are served with the summons and complaint (the complaint is the lawsuit attached to the summons), you will need to file with the court an answer to the complaint and you will need to serve your answer to the complaint by mail on the hospital or the hospital's attorney.  You will need to file your answer to the complaint and serve it by mail on the hospital or the hospital's attorney within the time set forth in the summons.  If you don't timely file your answer to the complaint and serve it on the opposing party, the opposing party will get a default judgment against you.  A default judgment means you have lost the case.  If that happens, you will need to file a motion to set aside the default.  If the court grants your motion to set aside the default, the case will then be back on track and litigation will continue.  If the hospital eventually gets a judgment against you, the judgment can be enforced by a wage garnishment or other methods such as a lien on your property. If you can't afford to pay the amount of the judgment, you might want to consider filing bankruptcy.  Chapter 7 bankruptcy is straight liquidation which eliminates your debts.  If you are not eligible for Chapter 7, you can file Chapter 13 bankruptcy.  Chapter 13 requires a plan (budget) for payment of creditors.

Filing bankruptcy will stop the wage garnishment.  Until there is a judgment against you, it would be premature to file bankruptcy.  There is no need to worry about this situation or to do anything until you are served with the summons and complaint. 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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