If my payment for a contracting job that I did isin dispute and I’vebeen given a check for part payment, doI give up my rights to the rest if I cash it?

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If my payment for a contracting job that I did isin dispute and I’vebeen given a check for part payment, doI give up my rights to the rest if I cash it?

I am a contractor disputing the final payment of a job. The homeowner has decided and sent a payment less than the final invoice. I intend to go through small claims. Can I or should I cash this check? There is no mention of final payment on the check.

Asked on December 2, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

From what you write, you may cash the check and sue for the remaining balance; when someone is owed a sum of money, he or she does not give up his or her rights to collect the full sum by accepting a partial payment, unless, that is, the person indicated that he or she would accept the partial payment as payment in full. So if the homeowner, for example, had said he'd pay you (for example) $3,000 for a job that you billed at $5,000, and you then told him to send the check, that could be taken as your agreement to accept $3,000 as payment in full.

However, if there was no discussion of this partial payment settling the whole debt, it should be safe to deposit/cash the check...you'll simply have to credit that amount against the balance in determining how much is still owed.


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