How long can you go without invoicing for a bill?

Can you bill a client for work you did a year ago if suddenly you now realize you never sent them a bill?

Asked on September 12, 2016 under Business Law, Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You can still enforceably invoice them--i.e. invoice them in such a way that, if they don't pay, you could sue them if necessary--so long as you leave enough time to file a lawsuit. There is no specific time period under the law within which you must invoice; the sole issue is whether you can "back up" the invoice with legal action at need, and that depends on whether you are still within the "statute of limitations," or time to sue.
In your state (these statutes vary by state, and also by underlying claim or cause of action), you can file a lawsuit based on an oral (unwritten) agreement to do work for pay up to three years after conclusion of the work; and if you had a written contract, you can file a lawsuit for payment up to five years later. So at a year past when the work was done, you are still well within time to invoice them and then, if necessary, sue.
(You can send an invoice even after the statute of limitations has expired or passed; but at that point, since you can't sue, it's purely voluntary on their part whether to pay or not.)

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.