When someone else’s careless or intentional conduct causes damage to or destruction of your property, you might be considering a lawsuit. Property owners can turn to their state’s court system to get compensation for financial losses resulting from damage to real property (a home or land) or personal property (a vehicle, an iPhone, jewelry, etc.). A property damage claim might be brought as part of a larger case (a car accident lawsuit where personal injury and vehicle damage are both alleged, for example) Property damage cases tend to have their own deadlines when it comes to your right to file a civil lawsuit. These deadlines are set by state laws (called statutes of limitations).
What is the Property Damage Statute of Limitations in Utah?
Miss the filing deadline set by the Utah statute of limitations, and you’ve probably lost your right to a legal remedy for your damaged or destroyed property.
In Utah, as in every state, if you’ve had your property damaged as a result of someone else’s careless or intentional action, you might be thinking about filing a civil lawsuit over the incident. If so, it’s important to understand the statute of limitations and how it applies to your potential case.
By way of background, a “statute of limitations” is a state law that (as the term suggests) limits your right to have a civil court consider your lawsuit, by setting a strictly-enforced deadline for getting the case started. Miss the deadline, and you effectively lose the right to bring your case to court. Every state has passed these kinds of laws, with time limits that vary depending on the kind of case being filed.
In this article, we’ll explain the statute of limitations that applies to property damage lawsuits in Utah, the potential consequences of missing the deadline, and a few rare circumstances in which you might be able to extend the time limit.
The Property Damage Lawsuit Filing Deadline in Utah
In Utah, the statute of limitations filing deadline is the same whether your potential lawsuit involves damage to your “real” property (that means a house, some other building, or physical land) or your personal property (which includes vehicle damage). Specifically, Utah Code section 78B-2-305 sets a three-year deadline for the filing of a lawsuit:
- for waste, trespass upon, or injury to real property, or
- for taking, detaining, or injuring personal property
So, for example, a vehicle damage claim after a car accident must be brought within three years in Utah. The three-year “clock” typically starts running on the day of the incident that led to the damage.
Missing the Filing Deadline in Utah
At this point you might be wondering what will happen if you try to file your Utah property damage lawsuit after the time limit has passed. In that situation, you can count on the defendant (the person you’re trying to sue) filing a motion with the court, asking that the case be dismissed. And the court is certain to grant the dismissal unless rare circumstances make an extension of the deadline appropriate (more on these rules in the next section). So, it’s crucial to pay attention to (and comply with) the Utah statute of limitations for property damage cases, even if you’re fairly certain you’ll be able to resolve the situation without resorting to a lawsuit.
Extending the Lawsuit Filing Deadline in Utah
For most kinds of lawsuits in Utah, including civil cases over property damage, a number of situations could serve to extend the lawsuit filing deadline set by the statute of limitations.
For example, special rules usually apply if, at the time the property damage occurs, the property owner is “under the age of majority” (which means 18 in Utah) or “mentally incompetent.” In those situations, the statute of limitations “clock” won’t start running against the property owner (unless there is a legal guardian in place) until he or she turns 18 or is declared competent, according to Utah Code section 78B-2-108.
Another potential exception to a strict application of the statute of limitations deadline: When the defendant (the person who is alleged to have caused the property damage) departs from the state before a lawsuit can be filed against him or her, the period of absence probably won’t be counted as part of the time limit for filing suit. This rule can be found at Utah Code section 78B-2-104.
Other circumstances may affect the Utah statute of limitations, and how the time window is calculated. If you have questions about the statute of limitations as it applies to your potential property damage lawsuit, an experienced Injury Smart Law attorney will have the answers. Call us and schedule a Free Consultation. 1-886-934-1237
Sometimes, when circumstances demand additional intervention with insurance adjusters, Injury Smart Law can file a small claims case. Small claims cases are civil actions to recover money. The amount of money to be recovered cannot exceed statutorial limits which are set by the legislature. Limits of claims and fees are to be found in Utah Code Section 78A-8-102. The regulations state that the amount claimed does not exceed $15,000. Injury Smart Law doesn’t make money from your small claims action. Additionally, small claims cases cannot be used to sue a government entity, to sue for possession of a property, to evict a tenant or to recover an assigned claim.
A small claims case must be filed in the justice court where the defendant resides or where the claim arose (where the events happened). Call Injury Smart Law today so we can assist you in moving forward. 1-886-934-1237