If you’ve been injured on the job, you are not responsible to pay for the treatment of your workplace injury. Medical bills should be paid by your employer or its workers’ compensation insurance carrier.
But what happens if you’re sent the medical bill and the hospital or medical provider starts hounding you for payment?
Fortunately, Florida and federal fair debt collection laws protect injured workers from demands for payment of bills they don’t owe. If you’re facing collection from hospitals or medical providers who have treated you for a workplace injury, you may be entitled to $1,000 in statutory damages, attorneys’ fees, and more.
As we explain below, a new Florida case holds it’s a violation for a medical provider to send a bill directly to an injured worker when the bill should instead be paid by the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier.
Fair Debt Laws and Workers Compensation
A worker injured on the job in Florida has to see a doctor authorized by the employer. Doctors and hospitals treating injured workers are paid according to a Fee Schedule, and
the amounts they receive may be only a small portion of what they normally
charge. Florida law does not allow the medical provider to bill you for the
difference. Florida workers’ compensation law requires that your medical bills be fully covered.
It’s not uncommon for an injured worker to receive a bill that should be covered by the workers compensation carrier. Oftentimes, a worker’s treatment will involve several providers: hospitals, outpatient clinics, testing facilities, rehab centers, and more. Some of these entities may not be experienced when it comes to workers compensation. A billing department could fail to inquire whether your visit it the result of a workplace injury or someone may fail to enter the correct information.
It’s your provider’s job to get the information before they bill you. They should find out whether your injury is a work injury and also obtain the name of your employer’s workers’ compensation carrier. It’s not legal for these providers to bill you improperly.
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
This federal law forbids debt collectors hired by the hospital or doctor’s office from going after you for a consumer debt you don’t owe.
If your rights have been violated under the FDCPA, you can sue the debt collector and recover $1,000 per violation and in some cases, actual damages you can prove you suffered. You can also collect your attorney’s fees and costs from them.
In one recent case, Malone v. Account Retrievable Resources, a worker sued a debt collection company after receiving a letter demanding nearly $1,000 after he received treatment at a medical center in Palm Beach County. The plaintiff sued under the FDCPA, and the debt collector asserted a bonafide error defense, claiming that it was counting on the medical center to give it accurate information. The federal judge ruled that the defendant could not rely on the bonafide error defense. This ruling could weaken one of the most common defenses used by debt collectors.
Manta Law represents workers who are facing collection for medical bills they don’t owe.
Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA)
The State of Florida has its own consumer law that resembles the FDCPA. It forbids not only debt collectors but the hospital and doctor’s office from trying to collect medical bills from you that you don’t owe.
You can sue the Florida-based debt collector, hospital, or doctor’s office under the FCCPA and potentially recover $1,000 per violation, along with proven actual damages. If successful, you will also be able to receive your attorneys’ fees and costs.
Following the Malone case, we expect that Florida courts will also rule in favor of workers who have received medical bills for workplace injuries. Call Manta Law to find out whether you have a claim under the FCCPA.
Fair Credit Reporting Act
A medical provider or collection agency should not be reporting you delinquent on a medical bill you don’t owe.
Under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), a hospital or collection agency must give you advance notice before they report something negative about you to a credit reporting agency. The Medical Debt Relief Act extended the notice period to 180 days.
If your credit report includes false information about medical bills, you may be entitled to $1,000 in damages. We can sue the entity that furnished the incorrect information to the credit reporting agency and help correct the incorrect information. You may be entitled to statutory damages, actual damages, attorneys’ fees, and costs.
About Our Firm
With an office conveniently located in the Carrollwood area of North Tampa, Manta Law serves patients throughout Tampa Bay and the State of Florida, including Sarasota, Bradenton, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Largo, New Port Richey, Tampa, Wesley Chapel, Carrollwood, Citrus Park, and Odessa.