Colo. Appeals Court Fines Hospital For Collecting From Injured Worker

A state Appeals Court in Colorado has found that a healthcare provider violated state law when it attempted to collect unpaid bills from an individual who was hurt on the job — even though the employer did not have worker’s compensation insurance — but ruled that the penalties for such a violation should not be a continuing violation in form of a daily fine of $750, instead ruling that the hospital should only be fined on the days it sent bills to the individual or when its collection agency did so.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Delta County Memorial Hospital v. Industrial Claims Appeal Office can be accessed by clicking here.

A woman was hurt and sustained serious injuries while working for a trucking company. She filed for benefits under worker’s compensation and was awarded medical and disability benefits, but the trucking company did not have worker’s compensation insurance. Because it wasn’t being paid by the worker’s compensation insurance, the hospital started trying to collect from the woman. It sent her eight bills and placed her account with a collection agency, who sent her two communications, attempting to collect on the unpaid debt. The hospital continued to try to collect after it was notified by the woman’s attorney about the nature of the accident and state law in Colorado that said it is unlawful for a medical provider to bill an injured worker.

An administrative law judge found the hospital violated state law and imposed a fine of $750 per day from the day the first bill was sent through when the hearing was conducted — a period of 119 days, for a total of $89,250. That decision was appealed, and the state Appeals Court ruled that the hospital’s violation was not a continuing one — once the bill was sent, there was nothing that it could do to get it back, so it fined the hospital $750 for each day it sent a bill to the woman as well as the two communications that were sent by a collection agency.

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