What can I do if the hospital is suing me for work done at my doctor's office?
Contracts are agreements that are legally enforceable. A contract is an agreement between two parties that creates an obligation to do or refrain from doing a particular thing. The purpose of a contract is to establish the terms of the agreement by which the parties have fixed their rights and duties. A contract may be legally defined as a voluntary, legally enforceable, agreement made by persons with the proper capacity. It should include: 1) an offer; 2) an acceptance; and 3) consideration, or an exchange of value.
A contract may be express or implied. A unilateral contract is one in which there is a promise to pay or give other consideration in return for actual performance. A bilateral contract is one in which a promise is exchanged for a promise. A contract is an agreement between two parties that creates an obligation to do or refrain from doing a particular thing. The purpose of a contract is to establish the terms of the agreement by which the parties have fixed their rights and duties.
Contracts are mainly governed by state statutory and common (judge-made) law and private law. Private law generally refers to the terms of the agreement between the parties, as parties have freedom to override many state law requirements regarding formalities of contracts. Each state has developed its own common law of contracts, which consists of a body of jurisprudence developed over time by trial and appellate courts on a case-by-case basis.
An unjustifiable failure to perform all or some part of a contractual duty is a breach of contract. A legal action for breach of contract arises when at least one party's performance does not live up to the terms of the contract and causes the other party to suffer economic damage or other types of measurable injury. A lawsuit for breach of contract is a civil action and the remedies awarded are designed to place the injured party in the position they would be in if not for the breach. Remedies for contractual breaches are not designed to punish the breaching party. The five basic remedies for breach of contract include the following: money damages, restitution, rescission, reformation, and specific performance. A money damage award includes a sum of money that is given as compensation for financial losses caused by a breach of contract. Parties injured by a breach are entitled to the benefit of the bargain they entered, or the net gain that would have accrued but for the breach. The type of breach governs the extent of damages that may be recovered.
Restitution is a remedy designed to restore the injured party to the position occupied prior to the formation of the contract. Parties seeking restitution may not request to be compensated for lost profits or other earnings caused by a breach. Instead, restitution aims at returning to the plaintiff any money or property given to the defendant under the contract. Plaintiffs typically seek restitution when contracts they have entered are voided by courts due to a defendant's incompetence or incapacity.
Rescission is the name for the remedy that terminates the contractual duties of both parties, while reformation is the name for the remedy that allows courts to change the substance of a contract to correct inequities that were suffered. In order to have a rescission, both parties to the contract must be placed in the position they occupied before the contract was made. Courts have held that a party may rescind a contract for fraud, incapacity, duress, undue influence, material breach in performance of a promise, or mistake, among other grounds. Having mental capacity to enter a contract refers to the ability to make a rational decision based upon all relevant facts and considerations. It is a subjective determination made on a case by case basis, but typically requires a person to be mentally impaired that they must have another apppointed, such as a guardian, to make decisions in his behalf. It must be more than a decreased ability in judgment, but a lack of ability to make a rational judgment, such as when medications produce a hallucinatory state.
A person who has been unjustly enriched at the expense of another may be required to make restitution to the other. Despite not having a contractual agreement, a trial court may require an individual to make restitution for unjust enrichment if he has received a benefit which would be unconscionable to retain. A person may be deemed to be unjustly enriched if he (or she) has received a benefit, and keeping it would create injustice.
Standing refers to a party having an interest in the matter at issue. If a hospital's facilities or services were used, so that expenses were incurred in providing the test results, the hospital typically would have standing to pursue the amount due for such services or uses. Privity means a connection or mutual interest between parties. It is often used in the law of contracts, which requires that there be "privity" if one party to a contract can enforce the contract by a lawsuit against the other party. Privity may also refer to a successive or mutual relationship. Whether there was a lack of privity of contract between you and the hospital will depend on the language of the contracts involved betwen yourself and the doctor and the doctor and the hospital. I am unable to find any precedent for a hospital that provides services related to an in-office test to be denied payment due to lack of privity. Such charges are commonly enforced by the court. As explained above, a court may award damages for benefits received under equitable notions of fairness even if a formal contract doesn't exist.
There ought to be a law regarding the time for billing to be made, but unfortunately, a hospital typically may bill for an amount due as long as they are within the applicable statute of limitations for contracts in the state. The statute of limitations in Kentucky is either 5 or 15 years, depending on the nature of the contract involved. If you are able to be successful in a lack of privity or laches defense, please let me know, as it would be a victory for many frustrated consumers of medical care.