What legal steps do I need to take if a customer has an outstanding bill that has gone unpaid for 3 years?

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What legal steps do I need to take if a customer has an outstanding bill that has gone unpaid for 3 years?

Asked on August 5, 2011 New Hampshire

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Contact a lawyer IMMEDIATELY--you may be running out of time (or even be out of time already). The time you have to take legal action is called the statute of limiations or SOL. The SOL varies by the reason you would sue. From what you write, the cause of action could arise from an open account, from a contract (e.g. for services), or from a contract for the sale of goods. The SOL for those causes of action are only three years or four years, depending on exactly which of these causes is involved. Therefore, if the customer has not paid for 3 years, the cause of action--or the reason to sue--could have arisen 3 years ago, and you may be out, or running out, of time to take action. Once the SOL has run out, you have no legal right to payment. Therefore, contact an attorney and let him or her file a lawsuit as soon as possible--assuming you still can--to preserve your right to take action.


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