What is the Property Damage Statute of Limitations in Indiana?

Comply with the Indiana statute of limitations for property damage lawsuits, or you could lose your right to file your case in court.

By , J.D. University of San Francisco School of Law
Updated 10/11/2023

If you've had your property damaged by someone else's negligent or intentional action in Indiana, you might be considering making a property damage claim in order to get compensation for your losses. If so, it's important to understand the Indiana statute of limitations and how it applies to your situation.

What Is a "Statute of Limitations"?

For those unfamiliar with the term, a "statute of limitations" is a law that affects the right to file a lawsuit, by putting a strict limit on how much time can pass before you need to get the case started (in Indiana that means filing a "petition" or "complaint" in court). Every state has these laws on the books, with different time limits depending on the kind of case being filed.

Does the Statute of Limitations Apply to Insurance Claims?

No. The statute of limitations only applies to lawsuits filed in court, not to an insurance claim for property damage. But if insurance coverage is in play in your situation, you'll want to get the claim process started as soon as possible, and leave plenty of time to take things to court (or at least preserve the leverage of the threat of litigation for settlement negotiations).

Let's look at the details of the lawsuit-filing deadline in Indiana.

What's the Filing Deadline for Property Damage Lawsuits In Indiana?

In Indiana, the applicable filing deadline varies depending on whether your potential case involves real property (damage to your house or your land) or personal property (including vehicle damage):

  • For damage to or destruction of personal property, Indiana Code section 34-11-2-4 gives property owners two years to get their lawsuit filed in court.
  • For damage to or destruction of real property, Indiana Code section 34-11-2-7 gives property owners six years to get the lawsuit filed.

For example, a lawsuit for vandalism damage to a house must be brought within six years in Indiana, while a vehicle damage lawsuit after a car accident must be brought within two years. In both situations, the statute of limitations "clock" usually starts ticking as soon as the property owner becomes aware (or should have become aware) that someone else caused damage to his or her property.

What If I Miss the Statute of Limitations Deadline In Indiana?

Whether it's the two-year or six-year deadline, if you try to file your Indiana property damage lawsuit after the filing window has closed, it's a near-certainty that:

  • the defendant (the person you're trying to sue) will make a motion asking the court to dismiss the case, and
  • the court will grant the dismissal (except in rare instances where an extension of the statute of limitations deadline is proper; more on these later).

If your lawsuit is dismissed, you've essentially lost your right to any legal remedy for your damaged property. That's why it's crucial to pay attention to and comply with the Indiana statute of limitations for property damage claims.

Get more details on how property damage claims work.

Extending the Lawsuit Filing Deadline in Indiana

For most kinds of civil lawsuits in Indiana—including property damage claims—a number of situations could effectively extend the lawsuit filing deadline as laid out in the statute of limitations.

If the property owner is under a legal disability at the time the damage occurs (they're under the age of 18 or declared legally incompetent, for example), they'll have two years from the time the disability ends (they turn 18 or are declared competent, following those examples) to bring the lawsuit. (Indiana Code section 34-11-6-1.)

If the defendant conceals the property damage from the property owner, the statute of limitations clock doesn't begin to run until the owner discovers what happened. (Indiana Code section 34-11-5-1.)

If the defendant is a non-resident of the state of Indiana, and maintains no agent for service of process (and hasn't designated anyone else to accept service on their behalf). In that situation, the statute of limitations clock doesn't start ticking until the defendant returns to the state. (Indiana Code section 34-11-4-1.)

There are other situations that could extend the statute of limitations filing deadline, but they're too complex to explain here. If you've got questions about the statute of limitations as it applies to your property damage case, an experienced Indiana attorney will have the answers.

Can I File a Property Damage Lawsuit In Indiana Small Claims Court?

Yes. Small claims court is an option for your Indiana property damage case, as long as you're not seeking more than $6,000 ($8,000 in Marion County) from the defendant. Learn more about bringing a case in Indiana small claims court.

Do I Need a Lawyer for a Property Damage Claim?

It can be a challenge to find a lawyer who's willing to take a standalone property damage claim, and paying for the lawyer's services might not be worth it, if the case is fairly straightforward and there's insurance coverage in play. Handling the claim process on your own, at least initially, might make the most sense.

But reaching out to an Indiana lawyer in your area might be a good idea if things get contentious. And a lawyer's help might be crucial if, on top of property damage, your case involves personal injury or some other legal issue. Get tips on finding the right lawyer for you and your case.

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