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MEDICAL DEBT COLLECTIONS TRYING TO COLLECT ON A BILL SUBJECT TO WORKER’S COMPENSATION

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on April 10th, 2015

 

Suffering a significant injury while on the job can be very traumatizing and life altering. Not being able to perform the job that one was once able to perform can cause a serious blow to one’s emotional stability and self-confidence, and the lack of ability to provide financial stability to one’s family is severely unfortunate. Insult to such injury is added when medical debt collectors fail to submit their billing liens to the workers’ compensation board and persist in attempting to collect from the injured employee directly. Thankfully, the law provides protections against such unfair debt collection tactics.

California Labor Code Sections 4600, 5300, 5304, and 5955 provide the basis that the worker’s compensation board has exclusive jurisdiction to handle medical debts that are the subject of a workers’ compensation claim. In order for the medical provider and/or debt collector to seek reimbursement for such services, they must submit a lien to the workers’ compensation board so that the board can determine the appropriate amount of pay for the employer and/or employer’s insurance company to provide. If the medical provider and/or debt collector is not satisfied with the board’s ruling, then their sole remedy is to file a petition for reconsideration pursuant to California Labor Code § 5900 and then appellate review pursuant to California Labor Code § 5950.

However, California Labor Code § 3751(b) provides that medical providers shall not collect money directly from their patients for services to cure or relieve the effect of the injury for which a claim form, pursuant to Cal. Lab. Code § 5401, was filed, unless the medical provider has received written notice that liability for the injury has been rejected by the employer and the medical provider has provided a copy of this notice to the patient. Any medical provider who violates Cal. Lab. Code § 3751(b) shall be liable for three times the amount unlawfully collected, plus reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.

Semnar & Hartman, LLP regularly ties such unlawful debt collection tactics into a claim for either or both of the Federal or Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Acts, since those laws prohibit any attempt to collect an unauthorized amount in connection with consumer debts. If you or a loved one are proceeding through a workers’ compensation board claim, but are still receiving debt collection bills and/or phone calls, please do not hesitate to contact us as soon as possible for a free, confidential consultation about your rights.