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Medical bills may actually come back and haunt you. Sometimes you may not receive any bills from the hospital you went to in California and you thought you had paid them all until a couple of years later you receive more bills from the very same hospital that you thought you had already paid off. If this happens you may want to check the medical debt collection statute of limitations California to see whether your creditors – your doctors or hospital – may actually proceed with legal actions to force you to pay your debts. But first, you may want to find out exactly what is a statute of limitations. Typically, a statute of limitations is a period of time where a grievance for certain causes of action may be filed. Basically it is the window period that allows any form of legal action to be taken if there is any cause for grievance or complaint. After the window period, any legal course of action may be considered as void by the courts if you use the window period as your defense. When it comes to medical debt collection statute of limitations California, it is basically the window period within which your hospital and doctors may proceed with legal action against you so that you may be forced to pay up. Medical debt collection limitations in California are 4 years on written agreements and 2 years on oral agreements. Usually expensive and extensive medical treatments may require the written permission of the patient, the guardian or the next of kin. This is where the forms your doctors request that you sign to authorize a particular treatment or surgery comes in play. Collection of payment for the treatment that you signed for may take place within the 4 year statute. If the four years are up, your hospital may be less likely to attempt any legal action against you. You may argue that you have not been given any bills after your treatment but the hospital may use that argument against you and state that it may be your responsibility to follow up on the bills after your treatment. Of course, the expiry of the statute of limitations may not mean that you may be released from the debt totally. In some cases, your creditor may actually proceed with filing a lawsuit against you in the hope that you have no idea that the statute of limitations has expired or when they themselves are not aware of the expiry. So if you find yourself in such situation, it may be a good idea for you to make sure that the statute of limitations really has expired before you use that argument for your defense. Generally you may have to raise the issue yourself as the courts are supposed to be neutral and may not argue on your behalf. The California debt collection for medical debts usually starts 30 days after the last payment. This is why it is advisable that you keep your own records of every phone conversation, copies of correspondence and dates and times of payments made. For instance, you might have received full medical treatment 3 years ago but the last payment you have made to your creditor was only 6 months ago. Therefore, the statute of limitations actually started 6 months and not 3 years ago. This is why it may be important that you keep all the receipts and proofs of payments because if you ever need to use the statute of limitations argument in court, you may be required to prove it. Keeping your own medical files organized might help you a lot in the future as you can be prepared for any surprise bills from your doctors. It may also be a good idea for you to get every single verbal agreement to be put in writing because it may be easier for you to prove if you ever need to dispute the claims from your creditor after the expiry of the statute of limitations. This includes any negotiations on a repayment plan whether it was from a face-to-face or phone conversation. It may also be wiser for you to clarify multiple debts as you may not want to confuse one creditor from the other in court. Generally, the statute of limitations is designed to protect both the creditor and debtor should any dispute come up after the expiry date. However, not many people are aware that there is a statute of limitations for the collection of medical debts and hospitals may use that to their advantage. So it is advisable that you brush up on your knowledge about the statute of limitations so that you know your own rights as a debtor.
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