What do I do if my dentist is taking me to court over a 4 year old bill that I never knew about?

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What do I do if my dentist is taking me to court over a 4 year old bill that I never knew about?

My sister, who lives in had NJ where I used to live 4 years ago, called me to say that I had a court summons. It had to do with a $350 from a dentist., and have to drive there in 2 weeks about 4 hours away. When I was last at the dentist I was 17 maybe 18 (I am calling Monday for the date when I had been to the dentist); I am now 21. My mother was always paying my bills and I was under her insurance then, so I didn’t think to worry. This is the first I heard of it, and now they are coming after me to pay this bill. I am a college student; I live at home; I have a part-time job; I have no asset

Asked on June 5, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

This is what the issue will boil down to: whether or not you can be held legally liable for a debt incurred as a minor based upon the laws of the state of New Jersey.  Generally speaking, many obligations created by minors are considered void, as minors are not legally capable of entering binding contracts. However, many states provide exceptions to this rule for debts incurred for necessities, such as non-elective medical treatment. Some states require that the provider attempt to collect from the minor’s parents prior to turning to the minor for payment, as parents are generally liable for any necessary medical treatment provided to their minor children. However, if your parents are unable to pay, the creditor may have a legal claim against you personally. Technically you did not "contract" your parents did, I know.  But you can not just let the matter go.  You need to answer and you need to see what happened to the insurance claim.  If the dentist failed to submit the claim to the company that covered you you could have a good defense here.  Good luck. 


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