Is small claims court an option for collecting unpaid bills ?
When collections efforts have failed to recover what a patient owes, small claims court is another avenue to pursue. Small claims courts in California have a jurisdiction over cases involving not more than $5,000 for an entity or $10,000 for an individual, and you may only use small claims court a limited number of times per year (currently two for claims in excess of $2,500) certain number of times per year. One cannot be represented by an attorney in small claims court. It should be recognized that small claims court requires you to “go the extra mile” in attempting to collect unpaid bills, including added expenses and time, and potentially including a trial if the case goes to appeal. Recognize that taking a patient to small claims court will likely result in the loss of that patient, the loss of future referrals and may damage your reputation in the community. In many instances, dentists simply decide to cut their losses and sever relationship with the patient.