When you suffer an injury that warrants a personal injury insurance claim or lawsuit, you could be experiencing stress on multiple levels. You are already dealing with an injury and the recovery that goes along with that, and these situations often require a lot of paperwork, phone calls and more. And then to top it off, you begin receiving calls from collection agencies for medical bills. So what should you do if you have a pending injury case and you’re contacted by collection agencies?
At LaBovick Law Group, we recommend using one of the following options:
Talk to the Collection Company
You are welcome to talk with the collection company and explain that you have an injury case pending. Tell them that if the bill is related to that injury case, they can call our office and we can advise them of the status so they don’t bother you. Knowing there is a source for funds out there will often take you off their radar.
Unfortunately, this does not ensure that calls won’t continue to happen. Collections Agencies usually get the right to collect a debt from the medical provider for a short time period. Then they must return it or move it to the next company. Some collection companies purchase the debt, then try to collect it. This is called factoring and these companies usually try to get a return on the money for a short time frame; but if they can’t get any money then they sell it to another debt purchaser, who then tries to collect the debt from the patient. Each sale is at a lower price point because the data is clear that debt collections go down on any given debt over time.
All this actually means that, even though we try to stand between you and the doctor for any collection efforts, the collection agencies may intentionally or inadvertently circumvent us and call you again anyway.
We Can Contact the Doctor’s Offices
We can call the doctor on your behalf and ask if they will pull the accounts back from the collection agency and accept an LOP (a letter of protection, which is a lien on the personal injury settlement funds that must be paid before we can distribute the money to our clients). Some doctors will do this. Others will not. It is up to the doctor’s office. We do not have the ability to force them to accept an LOP. You already have a signed LOP in our office. We don’t like to use it unless the medical office agrees to pull the debt back and to take the heat off our client with respect to collection calls.
Some medical offices have you sign an LOP as a part of your initial documents. Those doctors do not typically send bills to collections, as they are happier not giving a percentage for collections to the company on files that are secured by a Personal Injury case.
Negotiate the Bill
If you have the funds available, you can pay or negotiate and pay the bill. However, if you do this please let us know. We will try to get you repaid for any bills paid in the final settlement. There is no prohibition to doing this. The reason it isn’t done more often is because our clients seldom have the ability to pay off their medical bills. We are ethically prohibited from loaning the client any money, even for medical bills. However, every once in a while, especially when the bill isn’t too large, we have a client who will actually talk to the collection company and negotiate a reduced amount and put the charge on their credit card – just to get away from the persistent calls.
Take a Settlement Advance
The last resort is to take an “advance” on your settlement with a high interest advance company. This is an option that we hope our clients truly try to avoid, because the cost of the money is so high. Most of these companies charge 2%-4% per month on the advance amount. Some double in a year. Others take 2 years to double. But it is expensive money on money.
At LaBovick Law Group, we are Warriors for Justice for our clients! We want to help take the stresses of pending lawsuits off your plate. If you have outstanding medical bill collection agencies contacting you, call us today or try one of the options above to give you some time.