Facing A Medical Debt Lawsuit in Florida? Here’s How To Prepare
If you’re facing a lawsuit in Florida because of outstanding medical debt, it can feel like the odds are against you. In most cases, when a person is being sued by a debt collector it’s because they can’t afford to pay the outstanding bills they’ve accrued. When the creditor finally files a lawsuit against you, that will only make matters worse.
Medical debt makes up roughly 50% of all outstanding debt in the United States – more than both credit cards and auto loans. Because medical debt is sometimes thought of to be less important than credit cards or other outstanding bills, many people think they can simply ignore it. Ignoring the Debt leads to collection and then ultimately, sometimes to a lawsuit against you. It’s best to recruit a knowledgeable attorney to help you find other, often much less stressful, options.
Depending on the details of your individual case, your attorney can give you the advice you need to get through it. Here are some good general pointers for those facing a medical debt lawsuit in Florida.
Find out where the debt is from
Before doing anything, check to make sure the debt is actually yours and that you fully understand who the creditor is and where they are from. Medical debt can be a bit tricky because invoices aren’t always straightforward. If you are uninsured, you could have racked up quite a bit of debt due to lack of insurance. In other cases, the doctor you saw could have been out-of-network and this results in higher charges as well. If the debt does not belong to you, notify the debt collector of the mistake immediately.
Medical debt, like credit card debt, can be sold to third party collectors. If the doctor or hospital has sold your debt to a debt collection agency, you may need to dig a little to confirm all the information is correct, and collection companies aren’t always helpful or well-staffed. Sometimes services and totals can get mixed up, which can result in some false information being provided to you and the court in which the suit is filed.
Hire a bankruptcy attorney
Medical debt lawsuits can be a headache – especially for someone who has never been through one and doesn’t even know where to begin. The best option is to find a qualified bankruptcy attorney to help handle your case. A bankruptcy attorney by nature deals with debt and how to get people out of debt, whether a bankruptcy is ultimately filed or other means are used to settle the debt.
A bankruptcy attorney will know how to get your case as organized as possible and prepare you for your court hearings. This includes any paperwork you may need to file with the court, documents that need to be requested, and anything else you may not have the power and knowledge to do without an attorney.
Throughout your case, several circumstances are subject to change. When this happens, your attorney can make sure you know your rights, understand your options, and don’t run into any surprises along the way.
Exploring the option of bankruptcy
In very extreme medical debt cases, a person may be advised to consider filing for bankruptcy as a solution. While this isn’t the first thing someone should consider, some cases are best remedied by filing for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy should not be taken lightly, however. It could end up on your credit report for up to a decade, making it difficult to apply for loans, mortgages, and other financial services.
There are two types of bankruptcy for individuals: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7 bankruptcy requires a person to liquidate unprotected assets and cash in order to settle their debts. Chapter 13, however, doesn’t require a person to sell their assets, but instead allows them to set up a three-to-five year payment plan to pay off the debts they have.
Be as prepared as possible for your case
Facing a medical debt lawsuit in Florida can feel like a very scary experience. Knowing your options and understanding your rights are great ways to help ensure you’re in the best position possible to face the courts and your creditors.
The experienced team of West Palm Beach bankruptcy attorneys at Kelley, Fulton & Kaplan can help. Contact us today for a consultation and let’s see how we can get you back on track to financial stability.