What is the Property Damage Statute of Limitations in Maine?

Compliance with Maine's statute of limitations for property damage lawsuits is crucial, in order to ensure that you get your "day in court" if need be.

If you've had your property damaged by someone else's carelessness or wrongdoing in Maine, you might be thinking about filing a lawsuit in order to enforce your rights and get compensation for your losses. If so, it's important to understand the Maine statute of limitations and how it applies to your situation.

For those unfamiliar with the term, a "statute of limitations" is a state law that affects a potential plaintiff's right to file a lawsuit, by putting a strict limit on how much time can pass before the plaintiff can get the case started in court. Every state has these laws on the books, with different time limits depending on the kind of case being filed.

In this article, we'll explain the filing deadline that applies to property damage lawsuits in Maine, what happens if you miss the deadline, and some of the rare circumstances that could act to extend the time limit.

The Maine Filing Deadline

Whether your potential lawsuit involves damage to real property (your house or your land, for example) or personal property (including  vehicle damage), it must be brought to the Maine's civil court system within  six years.

This rule can be found at  Maine Revised Statutes Title 14 section 752, which codifies something of a "catch-all" statute of limitations that applies to most civil cases filed in Maine's courts.

Maine's six-year statute of limitations for property damage lawsuits is one of the most plaintiff-friendly in the country, in case you're wondering. And the "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.

So, if a homeowner wants to bring a lawsuit for physical damage to the exterior of his/her house caused by someone else's  negligence, that case must be brought within six years in Maine. The same goes for a vehicle damage claim after a  car accident.

Missing the Maine Filing Deadline

What happens if you try to file your Maine property damage lawsuit after the six-year time limit has expired? In that situation, it's a safe bet that the defendant (the person you're trying to sue) will file a motion asking the court to dismiss the case. And the court is certain to grant the dismissal unless rare circumstances make an extension of the deadline appropriate (more on these in the next section).

If that happens, you've essentially lost your right to any legal remedy for your damaged property. Six years is obviously a long time, but it's still important to pay attention to the Maine statute of limitations and make sure you keep your options open when it comes to a legal remedy for your property damage.

Extending the Lawsuit Filing Deadline in Maine

For most kinds of civil lawsuits in Maine -- including property damage claims -- a number of rare situations could effectively extend the six-year lawsuit filing deadline.

  • If the defendant (the person who caused the property damage) was (or is) out of the state for any part of the six-year period, the time of absence will probably not be counted under the statute of limitations. (Maine Revised Statutes Title 14 section 866.)
  • If the property owner is under the age of 18, has been declared mentally ill, or is imprisoned at the time of the incident that gave rise to the right to file the property damage lawsuit, he or she will be considered under a "legal disability." A the six-year "clock" won't start running until the legal disability is lifted (meaning the property owner has turned 18, been declared mentally competent, or has been released from incarceration). (Maine Revised Statutes Title 14 section 853)

Other exceptions may also apply to extend the Michigan statute of limitations time limit, but they're too complex to cover in this article. If you've got questions about the statute of limitations as it applies to your potential property damage lawsuit, an experienced Maine attorney will have the answers. Learn more about  Finding an Excellent Lawyer.

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