Hi @Allison.Blakeney, I’m not a lawyer and I can’t give anyone legal or financial advice. All I can do is share info.
Since your friend has already paid this particular bill, I think it is going to be difficult to get that back. But when it comes to the other bills he has yes you should first check to see if he qualifies for charity care. It is possible that he is outside the window of time to apply, but you can still ask and advocate.
If you get served with papers rather than be intimated into paying you could show up to court and dispute the debt there. Many people who do that get the debts discharged, or are found to be “judgement proof” (basically they have so little money, the courts won’t allow the creditor to pursue the debt), or at least have the debt reduced. You also have enormous power to negotiate a settlement, so even if your friend just wants it to be done and over with you can negotiate a much better settlement. Rather than pay $500 plus an additional $400 more for legal fees offer to settle the whole thing for $50. It would cost them more to fight you, so it is in their best interest to settle, even if you have to meet somewhere in the middle.
As always your options depend on the specific circumstances. It is always useful to seek legal advice. You can start with your local legal aid society. But you don’t need a lawyer to show up to court and dispute the debt judgement or to negotiate. If you can get legal help take it. If you can’t don’t let that stop you from advocating for yourself.