If you have a customer who has not paid their bill, you might be wondering how long you have to collect on it. Perhaps you have tried to collect on your own to no avail and you are wondering what steps you should take next. At Law Offices of Alan M. Cohen & Associates LLC, our experienced collection attorneys have been helping businesses resolve outstanding debts since 1994. We understand how frustrating the situation can be and how concerned you are for your own bottom line when a customer fails to pay.
In Massachusetts, all general debts have a six year statute of limitations on them for collection. As a business, however, you are likely trying to collect on a debt for goods sold and delivered, which means you must look to the Uniform Commercial Code. That law only gives you four years to collect. You may want to act much more quickly than that, however, for a variety of reasons.
The benefits of a judgment
At Law Offices of Alan M. Cohen & Associates LLC, we generally recommend our clients pursue a judgment to secure their debts sooner rather than later. Once you have a judgment in hand, you will have at least 20 years to collect. More than that, however, is that you may pursue attachments to your debtor’s property in a variety of ways, either before or after you receive the judgment from the court. An attachment sets aside a certain asset for payment to you. A judgment also puts you in line for payment if your debtor files for bankruptcy.
Other things to look for
We also look to see if anyone signed a personal guarantee or a promissory note as part of your transaction or whether there is evidence of fraud or misrepresentation. These can have various statutes of limitation, but also have other options for collection and damages. If you have filed a mechanic’s lien statement of account, those give you only 90 days to file suit.
Reach out for help
Although you may have four years to collect if you are subject to the Uniform Commercial Code or Six years for non-uniform commercial code for breach of contract, that does not mean it’s wise to wait that long. If your debtor is in a shaky financial position, they may not still be around in four years. Or they may file for bankruptcy, leaving you without a judgment. The experienced commercial collection attorneys at Law Offices of Alan M. Cohen & Associates LLC work to secure your payment through a judgment action. Contact our office at 508-763-6604 or through our online contact form to find out how we can help.