The laws vary pretty widely from state to state - you should look into your state's requirements, and your contract agreements with payers (if the patient was insured), and any other applicable authority who might have a say in what/how much/when it's acceptable to sue for non-payment.
Personally, I'd look into hiring a collection agency first, if you don't already utilize one. I know that the doctor deserves to be paid, but does (s)he really want to become known as the doctor dragging everyone into court over copays? Besides that, there's a high probability that the defendants won't always show up for the hearing in the first place. Then what?
Collect as much as you're legally allowed at the time of service (that means pull the patient's benefits and ask if there's any deductible that will be owed, etc.), and offer payment plans for outstanding charges. Even if all our patients can do is send $5 a week, we take it - at least we're getting the money (slowly, but surely). Good Luck!
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