How far back in my dental history am I liable to pay for revised charges for services the dentist feels that I was undercharged for?

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How far back in my dental history am I liable to pay for revised charges for services the dentist feels that I was undercharged for?

Almost 20 months ago I paid $1485 for 2 restorative partial crowns, the upper “canine” teeth. Then 2 months ago I had the 2 lower canine teeth done. The bill was $3000 for 2. If I ask why this was over twice as much as before, can he say he undercharged me the first time and bill me for an additional $1485? Would I be obligated to pay it?

Asked on July 1, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The answer depends on what is meant by "undercharged."

Scenario 1: when you agreed to have the work done, you were told what the cost would be, or received an estimate, or signed an agreement indicating the cost, etc.; then when the bill came, the bookkeeper made an error and billed you for less than the agreed-upon cost. In that case, the dentist would have a right to seek payment of the balance of the amount which you had agreed to pay, notwithstanding some "clerical" error in your invoice.

Scenario 2: the dentist realizes after the fact that he charged you less than he could or should have. In that case he can't try to charge you more later for work already done; he has to live with the price he'd agreed to, even if in retrospect, he wishes he'd charged more.


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