Your Medical Debt Collection Rights
It’s impossible to plan for a sudden or unexpected illness or injury. Depending on the severity of your condition, the ramifications can be physically, emotionally and financially devastating. Rarely is anyone prepared to pay for the exorbitant medical bills that accompany even a brief hospital stay. If you aren’t able to make payments on time, your outstanding debts might be handed over to a collection agency that will aggressively hound you for your dues. Know your rights and the laws surrounding medical debt collection to protect yourself and your family from needless anxiety during this already stressful time.
Federal Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
The FDCPA was an amendment first approved on September 20, 1977 and repeatedly amended over the years before its current iteration. Designed to establish legal protection from abusive debt collection practices and promote fair collection, it prohibits conduct such as:
- Calling a consumer outside of standard business hours.
- Failure to cease communication after a written request has been submitted.
- Calling a consumer at their place of employment.
- Threatening arrest or legal action.
- Demanding unjustified amounts.
It also requires collectors:
- Identify themselves and notify the consumer why they are calling.
- Provide the name and address of the company or individual the consumer owes.
- Notify the consumer of their right to dispute the debt.
The FDCPA laws do not supersede state laws. During a debt collection case or investigation, whichever protection most benefits the consumer takes precedence.
Arkansas’ state-level Fair Debt Collection Practices Act further defines and limits what a collection agency must do to legally take money from consumers. Without undergoing extensive licensing and following strict guidelines, no company or individual is allowed to demand debt payment on behalf of another party.
Most cases filed against consumers for unpaid debts are filed as a “breach of contract” claim. For any contracts not made in writing, the statute of limitations is three years. Debts incurred for medical services actually have an even briefer limitation of just two years. This means that if two years have passed since you received medical treatment, or made a payment for said treatment, debt collectors are not allowed to pursue you for further dues. Before entering an agreement to pay off old medical debts, be sure to check whether or not your debt is actually still due!
Debt Relief in Arkansas
If you or a loved one have become financially unstable due to unexpected injury or sickness, contact the Havner Law Firm today. Medical debt and bankruptcy attorney Kyle Havner will be happy to sit with you and discuss your legal options. Visit us online or at our office in White Hall.