Medical bill - Am I liable for attorney's fees without notice?


(Indiana)

I received ONE medical bill dated December 17 for $850 balance due after insurance had made their payment, but I didn't received the bill until sometime in January, don't recall approximate date -- didn't think it was a big deal at the time (the printed invoice had the address area whited out and hand-written in -- assume they had a wrong address and it had been returned). I sent the doctor a check for payment in full February 8. I received a letter from an attorney the end of that week demanding payment plus $250 in attorneys fees. I called the attorney the next day and explained the check had already been sent to the doctor before I received their letter. The doctor received my check and the attorneys are still demanding payment for the $250 plus interest. I only received one invoice, never anything else from the doctor, such as a notice or indication that it was going to collections. There was no contact from the doctor except the initial invoice. Can I be required to pay the attorneys fees? Where can I find information to dispute this unfair act?

Comments for Medical bill - Am I liable for attorney's fees without notice?

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Feb 23, 2010
attorney fee for medical bill
by: Gerri

Thanks for submitting your debt collection question on our Q&A page.

I'd suggest you immediately talk with a consumer law attorney to find out whether what the attorney did/charged is legal. We get a lot of complaints on this site, but I have to say yours sounds like one of the more outrageous ones to me. That fee, and the speed with which it was assessed, doesn't sound typical at all.

Keep in mind that attorneys who collect debts for third parties are required to follow the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and there are very specific procedures that must be followed, including notices that must spell out your right to dispute the debt, etc.

I would also recommend you at least read the first chapter of Debt Collection Answers online for free so you understand the basics of your rights when dealing with debt collectors (including debt collection law firms).

Although I don't have all the details of your situation, it sounds to me like you may have a very valid complaint. If the attorney did not follow the FDCPA, then you may be entitled to damages - and your own attorney's fees. You can contact a local consumer law attorney (make sure you talk with one with experience in debt collection cases), or call the Collection Complaint Hotline at 888-711-5183 for a free, confidential case consultation with an attorney in your state.

We have seen several cases over the years where debt collection law firms violated the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act in their efforts to collect debts. This is a serious matter, and by researching your rights you may help yourself as well as other consumers.

Please do let us know how this turns out. If it turns out the law firm is allowed to charge that kind of fee that quickly, we want to warn other readers about it.



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