While you’re in the middle of a car accident lawsuit, the last thing you want to think about is looming medical bills. However, hospital billing departments work quickly, and that means you may receive medical bills from the hospital that treated you after the accident before your claim has finalized and even before your injuries have healed.
Even if you inform the hospital of your pending legal matter, it may still send your outstanding bills to a collection agency. In this case, it is important to understand how bill collectors are handled during a car accident lawsuit. Let’s start by looking at the laws that protect you.
Bill Collection and the FDCPA
While some states have their own rules and regulations regarding bill and debt collectors, Utah is not among them. However, debt collectors are regulated by federal law. Specifically, they must follow the rules stipulated in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA.
Under the FDCPA, the definition of “debt collectors” includes collection agencies, debt buyers, and lawyers involved in debt collection. Additionally, the FDCPA covers most kinds of debt: medical, mortgage, credit card, and personal debts. It’s important to note that the act does not regulate the collection of business debts, which have their own regulatory agencies and the rules of which won’t be covered here.
There are a few FDCPA rules that are directly relevant to you as someone who might be receiving calls from collectors. If a debt collector is in violation of any of these rules, contact the experienced lawyers at Great West Injury Law, who may be able to help you with your situation.
According to the FDCPA, debt collectors must abide by the following rules:
- Debt collectors cannot harass you. Debt collectors cannot contact you outside of the window of 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. They also cannot contact you at a place that’s inconvenient for you, like at your job or at a family member’s house. Additionally, they cannot harass you with veiled threats and repeated, unwanted phone calls.
- They must inform you of the specifics. Debt collectors must also provide specifics about the debt they’re attempting to collect from you. These specifics should include: the party trying to collect the debt, the amount owed, and the fact that the debt is disputable.
- If you have a lawyer, the debt collector must go through him or her. Once a debt collector is informed that you’ve hired the services of a lawyer, like one of the debt-collection-savvy lawyers at Great West Injury Law, the collector can only communicate to you through the lawyer.
If you’re being bothered by a bill collector who has violated any of these regulations, you have options. First, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers some advice on its website, including a formal complaint letter that you can fill out. Additionally, you can contact a personal injury law firm, like us, who can help you deal with your situation to the best of our ability.
Tips for Keeping Collectors Off Your Back
After a car accident, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. You have insurance, other parties, damages, and potential medical issues to deal with. Having your phone tied up with bill collectors for any of the expenses you incurred after a crash can only make things worse.
To keep bill collectors away, here are a few tips:
- Contact your medical claims adjuster regularly. Even if you have missed payments, they can help contact the creditor and keep things from being sent to collections.
- Track your pending payments and expenditures. Keeping detailed records of your post-accident expenses can strengthen your case for your car accident lawsuit as well.
- Notify the collector in writing to stop contacting you. Under the FDCPA, the debt collector must stop all communication with you if you notify them to do so in writing. However, it’s important to understand that this does not discharge your debt.
- Keep your lawyer in the loop and forward any debt notices to them.
Great West Injury Law, Here to Help
If you’re being harassed by bill collectors while you’re working on filing a car accident claim, contact us. Our lawyers have experience dealing with these aggressive agencies, and with our legal team on your side, we’ll not only stop their repeated calls but also endeavor to maximize your compensation to offset the stress. Reach out today for a free consultation on your case.