CanI be sued for a debt that someone paid for me without my asking them to?

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CanI be sued for a debt that someone paid for me without my asking them to?

At the end of a 10 year parole sentence, I still owed $5,500 in restitution; I didn’t have the money so I went to jail. About 3days later my stepdad paid the debt and 3 1/2 weeks later I was released. At no time during my incarceration was I in contact with my stepdad nor did I ever ask him to pay this debt for me. In the papers it says that I knew it was a loan not a gift – which is completely untrue. Can he sue me and win?

Asked on December 21, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, Louisiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Two different issues:

1) Legally, no one can make you incur a debt without your agreement or consent.  If someone gives you money without you agreeing that it's a loan (or pays restitution on your behalf), it's a gift...and you don't have to repay gifts.

2) Practially, what it may come down to is what evidence does each person have (e.g. any pieces of writing or correspondence?) and who is a more believable witness; in other words, if you say "gift" and he says "loan," if you're sued on it, what will matter is who is more credible and whose story more believable (though generally, the one defending or being sued as a slight advantage; the plaintiff has to actually prove his or her case, which basically means the evidence needs to be "51%" in his favor--all things being equal, the defendant should normally win).


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