What to do about the statue of limitations on a medical bill?

UPDATED: Aug 22, 2011

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What to do about the statue of limitations on a medical bill?

I received a bill from a doctor I saw 6 years ago. The first bill recieved in 16 months ago, stating that I owed him. A lawyer suggested that the statue of limitations ran out after 4 years. Is asking for double amount stating it’s the interest owed on the amount. The collector stated that the debt was renewed is that possible? Any suggestions to how I can approach this?

Asked on August 22, 2011 California


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If the bill you received is a bill and not a judgment, most likely under California law the statute of limitations to bring a lawsuit for it has run. Breach of a written contract has a four year statute of limitations in this state. Breach of an oral contract in this state has a two year statute of limitations.

An unpaid bill can accrue finance charges, usually 1.5% per month or 18% per annum. If a lawsuit is filed, the finance charges can be claimed if stated on the bill or prejudgment interest at the leagl rate in this state at 10% per annum.

A debt that is not a judgment cannot be renewed in California. I tend to agree with the attorney you wrote about that the debt claimed is barred by the statute of limitations if not a judgment.

I suggest retaining that attorney you mentioned and have him or her write a letter to the debt collector advising that the claim against you is time barred.

Good luck.


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