Hospital charges when attacked by random stranger in public places

I am posting this on behalf of my nephew who is a student in Texas. He was standing outside the mall and a stranger assaulted him which resulted in grievous injuries on his face. He filed a police complaint and was treated in Emergency room and was admitted in the hospital for a couple of days.

He has received an invoice from the hospital and his share of expenses after insurance payout is about $9000. He is an international student and is not in a position to pay the charges and tried to negotiate the charges. The hospital is giving him to come on a payment plan but is not ready to waive charges. He made 2 payments till now.

Is there a way to negotiate with the hospital in waiving of this charges? How should he go about it negotiating with the hospital. Police is still investigating and I am not sure, if they have found the person who has assaulted yet. He is very unhappy since it is was not illness or his bad health. He got assaulted by a stranger and he is incurring the cost.

THanks for your time and advice.

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Did the police find anything?

Sounds like no:

Must’ve been pretty bad to stay at the hospital for 2 days.

What kind of insurance does he have? I would think that international students must have sufficient insurance to not be in a situation like this.


What do you mean by “outside the mall”? If it was on mall property, the short answer is to file a claim with the mall’s liability insurance. As long as there’s no question the injury happened, their Medical payments coverage will pay out with virtually no questions asked (typically a $5k or $10k limit). And depending on the facts, there may be additional liability above that but he’d probably need a lawyer for the claim to be taken seriously.

Your nephew needs to either contact the mall to file an injury claim, or speak with a lawyer. If his first solution was to accept and start paying a hospital payment plan out of pocket, I’d probably suggest taking the lawyer route.


If he’s a foreign student with no assets in the USA, isn’t he pretty much judgement proof? Will he return to his country after school?


They can still get a judgment and just wait. Then renew. If he’s never coming back to the US maybe they won’t pursue collection, but it’ll still be there.

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Sorry to hear that this happened to your nephew. Yes, it’s not fair, but the medical service providers are going to bill the patient, not the perpetrator, not the mall. It’s up to the patient to try to recover from the responsible party.

@glitch99 I didn’t know a mall could be held responsible for something like this, I’d think their liability insurance might cover accidents like tripping, falling, etc. on their property, but not an assault by a third party. Consulting a lawyer for options is a good idea.

Don’t many hospitals write off charges partially or fully depending on income? That info is usually on the back of the statements.

General liability would be harder to put on them. But the Medical Payments coverage is generally anything and everything that occurs on the property, regardless of liability. It’s why insurers are quick to “settle” small claims that appear to be rather frivolous; they’re only paying what the injured party is entitled to anyways (assuming there’s no dispute as to if the injury even happened), but they also include a liability waiver that prevents it from becoming something larger.


Thanks for the replies. His plan is to find job in US after completing his Masters. He does have insurance, the 9K bill is after the insurance payout. The police is still investigating and has not filed the complete report. I had him check with the hospital and they indicated that they would want 2K which are Doctor charges to be paid immediately and are willing to wait for the 7K charges. He has paid $400 till now.
I will have him check about lawyer, his main concern in dealing with lawyers is their fee.

How long ago did this happen? You say the police are still investigating (implying it just happened), yet also mention he’s made 2 installment payments to the hospital (implying it’s been weeks, if not months).

Lawyers in such cases work on contingency, they get a percentage of the final award as their fee. It’s an initial consultation; you go and tell the lawyer your case, and he either accepts it or says it isnt worth it. Depending on the lawyer, you may get some free legal guidance on the matter during this consultation, or you may only get a simple yes or no. Regardless, the costs/fees of retaining the lawyer will be explained before you are committed to pay anything - they aren’t going to bill you for simply calling their office (at least not until you are their client).

But he needs to either talk to a lawyer or submit a claim to the mall’s insurance carrier, and do it yesterday. The police report, ambulance ride(?), and ER reports help establish the facts, but time still is not on your side.


Advice to your nephew: Go with Glitch99’s suggestions. Hospitals don’t expect to be paid quickly. I never would have shelled out any money and would have told the hospital not to expect to get paid until the court case is over or at least until the police complete their investigation. Definitely try the route of contacting the property owner to get some relief from their insurance. Since he is already ankle deep in paying, I would probably contact and attorney or two to see if they would consider taking the case and see what they say when you mention the property owner’s insurance.

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I was mugged once living in DC and they actually had a “crime victims fund” for me that paid my after insurance deductible, altough I remember it being less than $1k. Perhaps he could look in to that?


If it’s a charity (non for profit) hospital then you have to ask their Finance Dept for charity care application. Once approved then charges can be reduced or waived based on the income.

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@OP - Some universities and colleges may have their own student legal aid advisors… who could put your nephew in touch with a decent lawyer if needed, and also advise your nephew of his rights, etc.


Personally I would not pay a dime until i get all the bills and reports. I would also not pay till i can make claims.

BTW, a lot of hospitals have gotten into the game of making you pay at the hospital during your stay. We have High deductible plan and We have seen a change in the way billing gets done. It used to be we will send you a bill but now they tell you this is what your insurance will pay so you are responsible for this. How do you want to pay by Credit or debit? First time it surprised me but now i choose the third option I want to wait for EOB before i make any payments.


Can they really do this? The terms of our insurance require us to not pay anything until we get an EOB.

Hospital’s line of reasoning is that, by their contract they know how much is your liability and they want to get paid now. It is basically servicing/collections of debt immediately.

I’m fine with this, but then they don’t get to complain anymore about how difficult it is to provide a quote for a service and they should have to inform the person of any additional charges prior to performing any non-emergency procedure.