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Can I ask for punitive damages when suing my former doctor?


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#1 nemoryer2012

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 04:18 PM

I am so incensed with my former doctor and her clinic over a bill that is unpaid and overdue to the lab.
Insurance says they will pay, but awaiting paperwork (dr's authorization) from the doctor's office which to date they have not budged to produce. I have made repeated requests at the doctor's office for the paperwork, so far, no action. Obviously the doctor had to have ordered the tests. I would never walked into the lab ordering blood work for myself, that is insame. The doctor ordered the lab work, no question there.

While the bill is only under $150, I stand behind the principle of the whole matter and I refuse to pay this bill because it is covered by insurance but insurance will not pay until they receive the proper doctor's authorization. Frankly I don't know what kind of mind games my former doctor and her clinic are trying to play here. It's absurd and without good explanation. A resolution of this matter only inures to their benefit in that their lab gets paid. I don't get it.

I'd like to sue the doctor and her clinic but would like to know if I am entitled to punitive damages, i.e., mental anguish over the last 90 days over fighting over this bill. This last bill says it's 3 months overdue and that I have to make arrangements with the lab on making monthly payments if I cannot afford to pay which I can but won't.

Needless to say, I've fired this doctor and am now with a new clinic where I am very happy.

Thank you.

#2 Tax_Counsel

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 05:12 PM

I'd like to sue the doctor and her clinic but would like to know if I am entitled to punitive damages, i.e., mental anguish over the last 90 days over fighting over this bill.
Thank you.


Quite frankly, I doubt you could win anything suing the doctor over this. In order to succeed, you’d need to prove that the doctor was obligated either by some law or by contract to produce this documentation. You didn’t say in what state this is taking place, but in the states I’m familiar with there is no law that mandates the doctor do that, and I doubt very many states, if any, have such a law. If there is no law that you can point to requiring the doctor to provide this documentation, that leaves you with finding a contract provision you had with the doctor that requires the doctor to provide it. Is there a contract provision for this? Most doctor contracts I’ve seen say they bill insurance as a courtesy but that the patient is still ultimately responsible for the charges incurred and contain no express obligation on the part of the doctor to provide information to help the patient get paid from the insurance company.

If you owe the lab bill, your obligation is to pay it. You can then seek reimbursement from your insurance carrier if needed. Those issues aren’t the concern of your doctor. In any event the doctor isn’t responsible for the billing grief you’ve been getting or for any dings to your credit over this since you have the responsibility to mitigate those damages.

You won’t get “mental anguish” or “emotional distress” damages in a contract case like this (even assuming there is a contract provision here that the doctor breached).

And nothing in your post suggests punitive damages would be appropriate.

#3 Guest_FindLaw_Amir_*

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 01:51 PM

To learn more about this subject matter, you may wish to read the LawBrain: Punitive Damages artilce as a good resource.




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