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What are accounts stated?

An account stated is an agreement between two parties who have had a previous transaction in which they acknowledge and agree to the accuracy of the balance due on an account. In Florida, a party may establish such an agreement through evidence of the parties’ conduct, such as one party sending a statement of account and the other party failing to dispute the statement within a reasonable time. Once established, a party may use an account stated as evidence of a debt in court, and the party owing the debt can be held liable for payment.

Suppose a customer, John, and a Florida business, ABC Inc., have a long-standing relationship in which John regularly purchases goods from ABC Inc. on credit. John receives an invoice from ABC Inc. each month listing the items he has bought and the total amount due. John does not dispute the invoice or the amount owed and makes regular payments on the account.

After some time, John fails to pay, and ABC Inc. reminds him that he has a past-due balance of $5,000. John does not dispute the amount and continues to make partial payments.

In this scenario, an account stated has been established between John and ABC Inc. because there was a clear expression or implication of an agreement to the amount of debt owed, and the parties had a prior course of transactions. If John fails to pay the remaining balance, ABC Inc. could file a legal action for an account stated within four years of the date on which the parties agreed upon the account, and John would be held liable for payment of the debt.

Need help with an account stated claim? Schedule your consultation today with a top business litigation attorney.

What legal issues typically arise related to accounts stated?

The following disputes are among the most common to accounts stated:

  • Contract Formation. To establish an account stated in Florida, the claimant must show that there was a clear expression or implication of an agreement to the amount stated and that the parties had a prior course of dealing or transactions;
  • Burden of Proof. The party claiming the debt generally must prove that the parties mutually agreed upon the account and that the amount stated is accurate. Upon this showing, the burden shifts to the defendant to present evidence to the contrary; and
  • Statute of Limitations: In Florida, the statute of limitations for an account stated is typically four years. Therefore, a claimant must bring legal action for an account stated within four years of the parties agreeing upon the account.

What are relevant laws related to accounts stated in Florida?

Statutory laws in Florida do not specifically address the issue of accounts stated. Still, Florida courts have recognized the cause of action in common law and allow a creditor to use them as proof of debt liability.

Regarding case law, Florida courts have recognized accounts stated as proof of debt owed in several cases, mainly when a seller provides a statement of account for goods purchased by another.

What is required to prove an account stated in Florida?

The elements of an accounts stated claim are (1) A previous transaction that created a liability; (2) An agreement by the Defendant that the balance is due and correct; (3) A promise has been made, either expressly or implicitly, to pay the balance; (4) The balance remains unpaid. If a court finds these elements are satisfied, it can hold the Defendant liable for the balance.

When a set of facts is appropriate to meet the requirements of an accounts stated claim, there are many paths a claimant may take. We are value-based attorneys at Jimerson Birr, which means we look at each action with our clients from the point of view of costs and benefits while reducing liability. Then, based on our client’s objectives, we chart a path forward to seek appropriate remedies, such as recovering the amount due on an account, interest, and attorney’s fees.

To see what actions may be available for your unique situation, please contact our office to set up your initial consultation.

What are common defenses to accounts stated in Florida?

The primary defenses to accounts stated claims in Florida include:

  • Lack of agreement: The defendant may contend that they did not agree to the terms of the account or the amount stated on the account;
  • Payment: The defendant may attempt to prove that they have already made payment for the amount in question;
  • Dispute over the amount: The defendant may dispute the amount stated on the account by claiming it is inaccurate;
  • Statute of limitations: The defendant may assert that the statute of limitations has expired and that the claim is no longer valid;
  • Lack of proper notice: The defendant may argue that the plaintiff did not properly notice the account or the amount due;
  • Unenforceable contract: The defendant may claim that the contract is unenforceable due to a lack of consideration or mutual assent; and

To see what defenses may be available for your unique situation, please contact our office to set up your initial consultation.

Have more questions about a business litigation-related situation?

Crucially, this overview of accounts stated does not begin to cover all the laws implicated by this issue or the factors that may compel the application of such laws. Every case is unique, and the laws can produce different outcomes depending on the individual circumstances.

Jimerson Birr attorneys guide our clients to help make informed decisions while ensuring their rights are respected and protected. Our lawyers are highly trained and experienced in the nuances of the law, so they can accurately interpret statutes and case law and holistically prepare individuals or companies for their legal endeavors. Through this intense personal investment and advocacy, our lawyers will help resolve the issue’s complicated legal problems efficiently and effectively.

Having a Jimerson Birr attorney on your side means securing a team of seasoned, multi-dimensional, cross-functional legal professionals. Whether it is a transaction, an operational issue, a regulatory challenge, or a contested legal predicament that may require court intervention, we remain a tireless advocate every step of the way. Being a value-added law firm means putting the client at the forefront of everything we do. We use our experience to help our clients navigate even the most complex problems and come out the other side triumphant.

If you want to understand your case, the merits of your claim or defense, potential monetary awards, or the amount of exposure you face, you should speak with a qualified Jimerson Birr lawyer. Our experienced team of attorneys is here to help. Call Jimerson Birr at (904) 389-0050 or use the contact form to set up a consultation.

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