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Is there a statute of limitations for a medical bill that went to collections?

Mechanicsville, VA |

The Medical bill is 7 or more years old and was originally from Florida. According to my research the statute of limitations is 5 years however, when I called to infor the collector they told me there was no statute on this collection. Am i obligated to pay this debt or not? I also found out sending a letter of validation is a great way to stop collectors from contacting you.

Attorney Answers 3

Posted

States usually have tolling statutes that provide that the statute of limitations tolls (i.e., the limitations clock doesn't tick) when the person is absent from the state. As a practical matter, it may mean that if someone moves out of the state before the limitations period expires, the clock on the statute of limitations stops. Poking around for Florida's tolling statute, I found Section 95.051 of the 2011 Florida Statutes. It's titled "When limitations tolled," and it provides that

"(1) The running of the time under any statute of limitations except ss. 95.281, 95.35, and 95.36 is tolled by:

(a) Absence from the state of the person to be sued."

All of which is to say, a debtor who left a state owing money to a creditor in breach of a contract to pay for services may find cold comfort in the statute of limitations when the creditor comes after him in another state. I don't practice law in either Florida or Virginia, but it seems to me you need legal advice from a lawyer in the state of your residence as to how best to deal with this creditor and the status of your liability for this debt.

Not legal advice as I don't practice law in either Virginia or Florida and hold licensure in neither of these states. Please go get legal advice from someone who does.

Good luck.

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L. Maxwell Taylor

L. Maxwell Taylor

Posted

The validity of out-of-state tolling statutes in the internet age is something that courts debate. Such statutes are relics of a time when finding someone who had moved out of state was a cumbersome, difficult, uncertain process. Nowadays, unless people are really in hiding, it's easy to find people who have moved a thousand miles away. So out-of-state tolling may not operate to toll the limitations period, depending upon what the courts of the relevant state have decided. In any event you need a lawyer versed in the law of Florida to hear your story at length, research the law, and explain it to you.

Posted

I have to disagree with Mr. Taylor somewhat. Generally the tolling provision Mr. Taylor is talking about would apply when and if you return to Florida and get sued there. However, if the creditor were to come after you in Virginia, the Virginia statute of limitations would likely apply. Which statute of limitations applies, though, can be a tricky question of a field of law called "conflict of laws" and requires a lawyer with some expertise to understand. That said, it is clear that some statute of limitations would apply and that the statement that no statute of limitations applies is clearly false, again assuming that all claims in Florida and Virginia have a statute of limitations. (the only claim I am aware of with absolutely no statute of limitations is for the government collecting on government guaranteed student loans.)

You may want to talk to an FDCPA attorney in your area. Check the website of the National Association of Consumer Advocates, www.naca.net, for attorneys in your area.

I am licensed only in Texas. Offering information of a general nature in response to a question is not intended to be legal advice in your state.

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L. Maxwell Taylor

L. Maxwell Taylor

Posted

A state court, hosting litigants who entered into a contract in another state, and uncertain whether to apply the law of the forum or some other law, will--if alerted to the issue--look its own state's choice-of-law rule. That rule may well direct the court to look, in the case of a contract, to the law of the place of contracting (the "lex loci contractus"), or in many jurisdictions, the law of the place with the "most significant relationship" to the contract. I'm not sure what approach Virginia follows, but a competent Virginia litigator will know. The short scoop is, without looking at the contract for medical services which the Asker entered into--a contract which may well contain both a choice-of-law clause and a forum-selection clause--it's uncertain what law applies or where the case is going to be litigated. This is one of the many reasons the Asker needs legal advice.

Posted

Virginia has a borrowing statute. That means that the statute of limitations must not have passed in either state (where the debt was incurred or where you live now). Telling you that there was no SOL may be a violation of the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act if this was a consumer debt and the other party is not the original creditor.

Send them a debt validation letter and tell them to prove it. I can help if you would like to hire an attorney. See my website below for more information.

Mr. Goldstein is a Virginia-licensed attorney only. The information is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation. Answering this question does not in any way constitute legal representation. Contacting Mitchell Goldstein or the Goldstein Law Group does not constitute legal representation, nor is any information you provide protected by attorney-client privilege until otherwise advised.

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