Is there a statute of limitations for legal bills?
I recently received a bill for legal services rendered in 1999. At the time I thought all my bills with the law firm were paid. I lived at the same address for 3 years after that, do not have an unlisted number, have had mail forwarding, have a mother who they knew of who hasn't moved, and my father is a current client. Yet for 7 years I've heard nothing till now. This is a large bill and I don't have any proof as to what part I paid it has been so long. Is there an sol which protects me from paying it now that they've waited so long to collect? I was told it was a billing department error, but seriously, this seems ridiculous. The lawyer has said they're willing to ''work with me'' on terms, but I think this is because they know I don't have to pay anymore. I haven't made any verbal or written promise to pay. Any advice? Thank you.
1 Answer from Attorneys
Re: Is there a statute of limitations for legal bills?
There are many facts not stated in the question, such as what kind of a case it was, what were the terms of the original engagement, etc., etc.
In any event, though, to answer your question based on the limited facts submitted, the Statute of Limitations in RI for actions based on contract is 10 years.
I respectfully suggest that while the law firm certainly should have rendered the bill timely, lawyers are human, too, and people simply make mistakes sometimes. In my opinion, that is not a good reason for you to renege on your commitment to compensate the firm. Indeed, this law firm, apparently, was there when you needed them with expert professional advice. You may need them again someday.
So I would accept the firm's offer to work with you, perhaps not only with respect to a payment plan, if necessary, but also perhaps with respect to a reduction of the overall bill, recognizing the unusually long time that has passed and the lack of supporting records.
Indeed, the firm might prefer to take a reduced lump sum just to keep the peace.