By: Scott M. Tanner, Esq.
If you receive a bill you don’t owe or receive a bill with a balance different than what you actually owe, OBJECT, OBJECT, OBJECT!
Among the most common tactics for enforcing any debt is the common count “Account Stated.” Generally speaking, an action on an account stated theory will alleged that some indebtedness existed between two parties and that the debtor-party, by either words or conduct, agreed with the creditor-party as to the particular amount of money is owed. See California Civil Jury Instruction 373.
Of critical importance in establishing an action upon an account stated is the idea that silence is deemed by the court to be acceptance of the balance. “The agreement of the parties necessary to establish an account stated need not be express and frequently is implied from the circumstances. In the usual situation, it comes about by the creditor rendering a statement of the account to the debtor. If the debtor fails to object to the statement within a reasonable time, the law implies his agreement that the account is correct as rendered.” Zinn v. Fred R. Bright Co. (1969) 271 Cal.App.2d 597, 600. As such, failing to object within a reasonable time to a balance allegedly due will result in that balance being conclusively established as the balance due.
The general policy underlying an account stated theory, as is so often the case in the law, is that society should discourage parties from sitting on their rights. The ability to challenge the balance allegedly owed to a creditor is limited. If you see an error in any bill sent to you, it is critical you object to the bill and make clear you dispute the balance being alleged.
If you need help challenging a debt, call the experienced and knowledgeable debt attorneys at Thompson Steinberg.
Scott M. Tanner, Esq.
Scott M. Tanner is a partner and co-founder of Thompson Steinberg. He has extensive experience in all aspects of commercial and consumer/retail collections, debt litigation, creditor’s right, and FDCPA, RFDCPA, TCPA, and FCRA compliance and litigation. Mr. Tanner has successfully represented business entities of various sizes – ranging from small, mom-and-pop type local businesses, to major national and multinational corporations. He enjoys hanging his left hand out the car window while driving to court.
**The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This blog posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.**