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What is the statute of limitations for medical bill collection in California?

Sonora, CA |

I was sent a bill from a collections agency regarding old medical bills from 2006 and before. I called the creditor and stated that I was unaware of these bills and asked why I was being asked for payment since all but one are older than seven years. The creditor stated that the hospital has no statute of limitations. I checked all three of my credit reports and the only bill listed is from 2006, and it was only listed on one of the three reports. Since the bills from before 2006 are not listed on my credit reports, am I obligated to pay them? Can they put the old bills back on my credit reports?

Attorney Answers 4


  1. The statute of limitations is 4 years from date of breach (or 4 years from date of your last payment).


  2. I assume the debt was incurred in California? In California, the statute of limitations for breach of written contract is 4 years from date of breach, or 4 years from date of the last payment, whichever is later.

    The statute of limitation is a defense, so you have to assert the defense if you are ever sued for such debts. Otherwise, the defense is waived.

    Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult with your own attorney.


  3. If they put the account on your credit report, you have a claim against them under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. And, in addition, if you follow the proper steps, an additional claim under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

    The Statute of Limitations is 4 years on a written contract or an an open book account. Otherwise, it is two years. If you did not enter into (i.e., sign) a written contract, there would be a two year statute of limitations on their contract claim.

    You have many additional defenses when sued by a collection agency over an old medical bill. For instance, how did they come up with the amounts on the bill? Medical providers have different prices depending upon which insurance is involved, etc. If the collection agency is stupid enough to sue, will it be able to find witnesses who were at the hospital 7 years ago and who can testify about how the records were created and maintained, etc.?

    Just send a letter telling the collector not to call you or communicate with you anymore. And, keep checking your credit report.