April 06, 2021
Summary: Are you stressed out about an old medical debt? You might not need to worry any longer. Learn your state's statute of limitations on medical debt.
The statute of limitations for a creditor to lawfully collect a debt varies from state to state. Medical debt is no different and each state has a statute of limitations for how long a creditor can legally take action on collecting the medical debt.
If the statute for your particular debt has passed, you should be clear that the debt is still owed even if the creditor has no legal recourse. Another misnomer regarding statutes of limitation that exists is that once this date has passed, the medical debt can no longer appear on your credit report. That is simply false. How long any item appears on your credit report has nothing whatsoever to do with the statute of limitations for that particular debt.
Even if the statute of limitations has passed the creditor can attempt to sue you. Oftentimes this is done because some consumers are not knowledgeable about their consumer rights. If a medical debt creditor files suit after the statute has come and gone, they may do so in an attempt to scare the consumer into paying something on the debt. If the consumer was unaware of the statute of limitations in their particular state, they may be frightened enough to pay the creditor something.
The statute of limitation in all states differentiates between oral and written contracts. Medical debt is considered a written contract. Here are the specific statute of limitations by state:
Now that you have this handy dandy reference guide detailing the time a creditor can legally take action on medical debt, there are a few other things you should be aware of regarding the statute of limitations.
It's one thing to know that in your state the creditor has six years to legally take action on your medical debt. It is another thing to know exactly when the clock starts. Every single communication and/or payment made by the consumer to the creditor regarding the specific medical debt in question starts the statute of limitations clock.
If you were unable to make a payment and were avoiding all communication attempts made by the creditor, you must know that if you were to accept a call or respond to a letter from the creditor, the clock restarts. Same thing if you were to make a payment on the debt.
If you didn't make the last payment and not have communicated in any way, shape, or form with the creditor, the clock began from the date of the first payment you may have missed. It depends on the amount of the debt, but keep in mind that the creditor can take any legal action against you for this medical debt during the time period within the statute of limitations.
As a consumer, you have rights under federal law that protect you regarding any debt that is alleged that you owe. Collection agencies or law firms have federal laws that govern the actions they can take in attempting to collect a debt. There are some disreputable agencies or law firms that may break these laws in their attempt to collect the debt.
It is incumbent upon all consumers to arm themselves with the knowledge and understanding of their basic consumer rights. Knowing the statute of limitations is a step in this direction. If a debt collector or agency or collection law firm has violated the laws that govern their actions, there are state and federal agencies that you can report them to protect your rights.
Part of your consumer rights extends to your credit reports. Back in the day, medical debts were viewed to have the same importance as a mortgage or car loan. Over the last few years, Credit Bureaus have taken the position that consumers incur medical debt not of their choice but out of their control. As a result, medical debt carries less weight than traditional credit extended to consumers.
To accurately find out what the exact status of your medical debt is regarding your specific state's statute of limitations can be difficult to obtain at times. There are several ways for any consumer to find this information.
It is important to state that even if your debt is past the statute date and the creditor is barred from taking any legal actions, the debt is still owed and more than likely the creditor will continue all collection efforts.
You can contact your state's attorney general office. They can provide information germane to your specific state. You can contact a local legal aid office but their resources are limited. You can certainly hire an attorney to assist you with this matter but many lawyers can prove to be very costly. You can also check the resources at SoloSuit.com.
Whichever road you take would depend on your time and budget. Like anything in life, whenever you can arm yourself with the most information usually proves to be the best for your specific situation.
SoloSuit makes it easy to respond to a debt collection lawsuit.
How it works: SoloSuit is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your answer. Upon completion, you can either print the completed forms and mail in the hard copies to the courts or you can pay SoloSuit to file it for you and to have an attorney review the document.
"First time getting sued by a debt collector and I was searching all over YouTube and ran across SoloSuit, so I decided to buy their services with their attorney reviewed documentation which cost extra but it was well worth it! SoloSuit sent the documentation to the parties and to the court which saved me time from having to go to court and in a few weeks the case got dismissed!" – James
Here's a list of guides for other states.
Being sued by a different debt collector? We're making guides on how to beat each one.
Is your credit card company suing you? Learn how you can beat each one.
Need more info on statutes of limitations? Read our 50-state guide.
Need help managing your finances? Check out these resources.