Norfolk Southern Billing Questions

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August 9, 2005
One man working at Avondale Mills the night of the Graniteville train collision says he was billed for a sleep study he thought Norfolk Southern would pay for. Who’s responsible for all those medical bills following the train wreck? News 12 has more on a big question, waiting for an answer.

Will Norfolk Southern pay for all those medical costs? We had a hard time finding an answer. But at least one man thinks he is stuck with a hefty bill.

Avondale Mills employee John Tillman got a shocker in the mail last week. A week after going to a sleep study at Doctors Hospital he got a bill in the mail for $405. He thought the sleep study qualified as one of the medical expenses Norfolk Southern had agreed to pay.

“I’ve been having problems breathing when I lay down at night. I’ve been waking up coughing. I can’t catch my breath,” Tillman said.

Tillman was one of hundreds who went to the hospital the day of the deadly train crash and chemical spill. He still hasn’t seen any of those bills; they went directly to Norfolk Southern.

“I didn’t have this problem before the accident,” Tillman said.

We asked Aiken Regional Medical Centers a series of questions. How many Graniteville bills have been paid? Has Norfolk Southern indicated they won’t pay for patients who sought treatment more than three days after the crash?

The hospital’s response: “We do not wish to respond to these questions in detail at this time.”

Now the lingering question, will some who went to local hospitals be stuck with thousands in medical costs? Attorney Ronald Maxwell represents 40 Graniteville survivors.

“The ultimate goal is that these people, if they were injured because of the chlorine gas whenever they got treatment, that they get paid fully,” Maxwell said.

“Norfolk Southern regrets experienced by the community and will continue to make every reasonable effort to address citizens concerns as quickly as possible,” said Robin Chapman, Norfolk Southern.

But now, seven months after that statement, some are still looking for relief.

“The doctor recommended for me to go to the sleep study and they said they would pay for it, but it didn’t work out that way. I got the bill now,” Tillman said.

In an email from Norfolk Southern, a spokesperson tells News 12 they review all the medical bills one by one. And they anticipate all reasonable bills to be paid very soon.

A spokesman for Doctors Hospital says they can’t comment on any billing issues, citing patient privacy. Norfolk Southern did not know any details about John Tillman’s case. And they did not give a specific answer about paying for medical costs for people who came to the hospital more than three days after the crash.