When does the statute of limitations begin to run on medical bills from an emergency room visit?

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When does the statute of limitations begin to run on medical bills from an emergency room visit?

I’m an attorney, but practice in a different state and have no experience in this particular area. The patient was ambulatory and competent and was able to sign the ER paperwork before treatment. At first I thought it would begin the day once the bill wasn’t paid, as that would be the day that the breach (of contract) occurred. However, I am now reading where it reverts from the day the bill is due, back to the day of service. Could you please clarify this?

Asked on December 8, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, Michigan

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Documentation signed usually does include provisions that the breach occurred when not paid.  However, a normal reading of what you just described would indicate that while the bill was incurred on the date of service the due date would be whatever the bill states it is.  If the due date of the bill is 30 days or 90 days from date of service, the breach didn't occur until the 31st or 91st day.  However, if your state's medical bill or contract statute of limitations states that the time runs from the day the debt was incurred, your client may have a good start.  In other words, to whose favor does the statute run? If the contractual provisions runs afoul of that statute, it may be voidable.  So make sure you have reviewed the material (statutes, contract provision, case law relevant to this matter) before you approach the collection agency or creditor with your position or an offer.


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