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Hospitals may seek payment according to the guidelines of your specific state laws. Generally, three to 10 years is the timeline in which most states allow hospitals to take legal action. Each state sets a statute of limitations (SOL) according to the type of outstanding debt:
- Oral agreements are undocumented agreements between two or more parties
- Open Accounts – are lines of credit that may be used repeatedly (includes credit cards, home equity lines of credit, department store revolving accounts and others).
- Promissory Note – is written unconditional promise to remit a sum of money
- Written Contracts – are deemed as written credit contracts (in example: car loans and mortgages)
For example, in Nebraska the statute of limitations (SOL) is four years for oral agreements, 5 years for written contracts, six years for promissory notes and four years for open accounts. To determine how long a hospital can collect a bill contact your state's Attorney General's office.