How can I enforce a verbal agreement?

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How can I enforce a verbal agreement?

I am a tenant and I fell off my landlord’s porch due to a broken railing. My landlord promised to pay my hospital bills because she didn’t want to go through her insurance company. How can I protect myself if I move and she stops paying my bills?

Asked on March 7, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If she stops paying, you can sue her: you would be suing for breach of an oral agreement, since an settlement of potential liability (you presumably giving up your right to sue or not suing, in exchange for the payment of medical bills) is an agreement, and agreements, including oral agreements are enforceable. As a practical matter, it may be difficult to prove the existence of an oral agreement or its terms--which is a big part of the reason ALL important agreements should be in writing--but legally you may enforce it. As noted, however, the way to enforce it would be via lawsuit, which may or may not be worth it, depending upon how much money is at stake when or if the landlord stops paying.


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