A dentist office and collections agency is suing me for now over $1800 for an incorrect bill. I received a letter from a debt collections agency stating I owed $1290.63 to the dentist. I wrote a letter back (within 30 days) that I was disputing the debt and to prove the debt was owed. They sent me back a letter with my account details. I see that the dentist office claims they sent me 2 collection attempt letters and also one that was sent certified and returned for $458. I did not receive any letters or notices or calls. I then see on the last page that they added a $800 charge for partial dentures made after they sent out these letters (several weeks later). I wrote back to the collections agency a cease and desist letter disputing the debt again. I never received the dentures as well as my insurance covers it at 100%. They never submitted the claim because they couldn't per my insurance company. They couldn't because they never gave me the dentures (spoke with my insurance company). I then receive a summons for small claims court. I went to court and the collections agency asked me how I would like to pay for the debt. I told him, again, I do not owe that amount. That the $800 they tacked on was 100% covered by insurance and I also never received the dentures. They turned me away when I tried to pick them up, would not allow me to get them. At this time, the total debt owed was around $1400, including court fees etc (yes a copy from the dentist paperwork stated they could charge court fees, collection fees). I showed the collections agency copies of my paperwork including insurance claims they submitted stating what I owed ($458) and what I signed for what I owed. I also paid $110 towards what I owed. He became angry and said he will schedule a continuance for a month later while he checks things. Within that month, I receive a copy of my account from the dentist. Same paperwork I received before. Went to court again. New amount owed was around $1800 now. He asked again, how would I like to pay. I told him again I am disputing this debt. I do not owe that $800. He tried to show me that I did per the dentist's account paperwork. I again showed him proof that I did not owe that. He said 'you want to take this trial? And have to pay more money in court costs?'. I said I don't owe that $800. He said, I'll do you a favor. I'll allow you to talk to your insurance company and submit a claim to cover that $800. Come back March 21 with proof. I called my insurance company which put the dentist office on the call as well. My insurance company can't cover the claim because I didn't receive the completed dentures. The dentist office stated that because I was late on a payment they denied me the appointment to pick up dentures. Stated I was 3 months behind. I was allowed all my other appointments during those 3 months. I paid them $110. I asked the dentist office do you have my dentures? They told me they won't ever give me an appointment to get them. It's in collections. They are done with me. My insurance company can't cover that $800 because of codes/never received completed dentures. The dentist office did say they would 'try' to write off that $800. I found out today that they did write off the $800 but I now owe $820.19 which includes principal interest, court costs and fees. If the dentist never added this charge without me knowing (and owing) in the first place I would never have had to go to court, let alone twice (and a third with probably more fees). Should I seek a lawyer for my next court date? Do I have a case of anything? What type of law practice lawyer should I seek, if so?
1 Answer from Attorneys
This is a situation where you should have sought legal advice and representation early on rather than turning it into a do-it-yourself project. At this point, it's most economical just to payoff the 820.19 and chalk it off as a lesson learned.