Dealing with Medical Providers and Debt Collection Activities When You Have a Pending Workers Compensation Claim in Virginia
If you’re hurt on the job in Virginia, then you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. The most important of all available benefits is the right to have your employer or its workers’ comp insurance carrier pay for all medical treatment related to your work injury.
Those of you who have been through Virginia workers comp before or who have a pending workers compensation hearing know that it can take months to get a resolution after filing a claim for workers comp benefits. During this time you’ve likely received medical care – or at least you should have – to treat your work injuries.
Whenever you receive medical care on a pending claim – or even an accepted workers comp claim – there is always a risk that the medical provider will try to collect payment from you directly for medical care rendered for your work injuries. Depending on the severity of your injuries the bills may total in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Receiving medical bills and calls from collection agencies can cause additional stress when you’re already battling a work injury and trying to recover.
Help Against Medical Provider Debt Collection Activities When You Have a Workers Comp Claim
There is help available if you’re the victim of medical provider debt collection activities. Such activities are unlawful under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act.
Section 65.2-601.1 of the Virginia Code, entitled Effect of Filing Claim; Stay of Debt Collection Activities by Health Care Providers,” states:
Whenever an employee makes a claim pursuant to Section 65.2-601, all health care providers, as defined in Section 8.01-581.1, shall refrain from all debt collection activities relating to medical treatment received by the employee on connection with such claim until an award is made on the employee’s claim pursuant to Section 65.2-704. The statute of limitations for collection of such debt shall be tolled during the period in which the applicable health care provider is required to refrain from debt collection activities …
Debt collection activities include repeatedly calling or writing you and threatening to turn your bills over to a debt collection agency or to an attorney for collection enforcement. Routine billing or inquiries about the status of your workers’ comp claim are not considered debt collection activities.
So what does this mean?
Your credit should not take a hit because of medical bills so long as your workers’ comp claim is pending. You must be proactive, however, to make sure that you do not suffer damage because of medical bills. If you’re not proactive then health care providers may take action that harms your credit and impacts your financial future.
We recommend contacting a Virginia workers compensation attorney to deal with your health care providers while the claim is pending. As a Norfolk workers compensation lawyer and Fredericksburg workers comp attorney, Corey Pollard has navigated debt collection activities for hundreds of injured workers. We know the law and how to fight back against aggressive health care providers and debt collection agencies.
What happens if the health care provider pursues debt collection activities even though they know my claim is pending?
If this happens then you may be entitled to compensation and damages for the health care provider’s violation of the workers’ compensation statute.
What if I settle my case?
If you negotiate a workers compensation settlement then you should always take into consideration your outstanding medical bills. Your attorney may be able to negotiate lower bills so that you pocket more money. Always tell your attorney about outstanding medical bills so that he or she can try to get these reduced or written off.
What if the Commission denies my claim?
If the Commission denies your claim for benefits, then you will be responsible for the medical bills.
A denial from the Commission, however, may trigger the anti-subrogation provision in the Virginia Code. If the Commission denies your workers’ compensation claim then your private health insurance or other health care coverage will have to pay the medical bills. Of course, this only helps if you have health care coverage.
Have a question about navigating medical bills and the workers’ comp process? Call, text, or email us today for a free consultation. We’re here to help you and your family during this time.