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Sent to collections for unpaid Workers Compensation medical bills?

I received a call yesterday from a client that was upset because their company was sent to collections for unpaid workers compensation medical bills. The language in the letters from the collection agencies are very threatening to you and your company. With the current economic times and credit rating being a major lifeline for companies dealing with a threat to your credit score from a collection agency is a very serious matter that needs to be dealt with immediately. Your California workers compensation carrier will most likely not deal with the collection agency on your behalf. However, you do have a defense to get the collection agency off of your back. As I advised our client, write back to the collection agency and cite California Labor Code 3751 (b)

“If an employee has filed a claim form pursuant to Section 5401, a provider of medical services shall not, with actual knowledge that a claim is pending, collect money directly from the employee for services to cure or relieve the effects of the injury for which the claim form 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 employee. Any medical provider who violates this subdivision shall be liable for three times the amount unlawfully collected, plus reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.”

In your correspondence back to the collection agency include a copy of the DWC1 (employee claim form). Tell them to immediately remove the employee and employers names from collections with written confirmation of it being done. If they don’t comply threaten to counter sue at their costs as indicated in the labor code. This should make them back off and relieve your stress. Labor Code 3751 (b) is not very well known or referenced by many in our industry. If you would like additional information on this topic please send me an email or if you have any other workers compensation claims related questions please let me know. I would be happy to help.

Rene Sanchez