How long does a doctor have to bill a patient?

I received a bill from a visit 6 years ago and knew nothing about this charge. I have been to this office several times and was never told about this bill.

Asked on June 5, 2014 under Business Law, Arkansas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

The time to bill is effectively the time frame within which a lawsuit must be brought (the "statute of limitations"), since that defines how long the creditor has to bring a legal action to enforce the debt. Once it's too late to sue, the creditor has no way to make the debtor pay. The statute of limitations of contracts is 3 years (oral contract) or 5 years (written contract); generally, a case like this is governed by the statute of limitations for contracts, since it arises from an agreement to pay for services. From what you write, it may therefore be too late for the doctor to force you to pay if you refuse, since you may be able to plead the statute of limitations as a defense.

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