Q: Am I Legally bound to pay the invoice received from County for emergency services used by my Father in law?
My father in law had a medical emergency while he was visiting me in January 2020 and my wife has to call 911 to take him to hospital, He returned back to India in March 2020. We provided his Travel Insurance details to the hospital, but now after 6 months, I received an Invoice from County to pay $511 for emergency services. My name was mentioned in the hospital as emergency contact for him. What are my legal options in this regard? Am I legally bound to pay this amount? What will happen if I don't pay this amount? Invoice is on his name only and not mine.
A: It is not unusual that the person calling an ambulance is not the person needing the ambulance. The person needing the ambulance is typically liable based upon implied consent. The person is having a medical emergency and it is implied by the circumstances that the person would want an ambulance called. If the liability were extended to persons who make the call, it would discourage bystanders from calling for assistance.
An exception is that a spouse may be held responsible for the care of the other spouse. In St. Francis Regional Medical Center, Inc., v. Bowles, 251 Kan. 334 (1992), the Kansas Supreme Court update the doctrine of necessaries (that a husband would be responsible for furnishing the necessities of life) to obligate the wife to pay for medical care for a husband. The court held, "however, that before a creditor may seek payment from a spouse the creditor must first pursue collection from the person who received the necessary goods or services. Only if the spouse who received the benefits has insufficient resources to satisfy the debt may the other spouse be liable. Such liability is not automatic; the second spouse may raise any defenses available. "
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