What Is the Property Damage Statute of Limitations In Minnesota?

Comply with Minnesota's statute of limitations lawsuit-filing deadline or you could lose your right to compensation for damaged or destroyed property.

By , J.D. · University of San Francisco School of Law

If you've had your property damaged in Minnesota, you might be thinking about filing a lawsuit against the person you think is to blame for what happened. If so, it's critical to understand and comply with the Minnesota statute of limitations for property damage claims.

What Is a Statute of Limitations?

In case you're not familiar with the term, a "statute of limitations" is a state law that puts a limit on how much time can pass before you file the case in court. Every state has passed these laws, and the time limits vary depending on the subject matter of the lawsuit.

What Is Minnesota's Lawsuit-Filing Deadline for Property Damage Cases?

Lawmakers in Minnesota have set a (fairly generous) six-year deadline for the filing of any lawsuit seeking compensation for the repair or replacement of damaged or destroyed property in the state, whether the case is over:

  • real property (damage to your house or your land), or
  • personal property (including vehicle damage).

You can find this law at Minnesota Statutes section 541.05.

For example, a lawsuit for negligent damage to an apartment building roof and a vehicle damage lawsuit after a car accident both need to be brought to court within six years in Minnesota, and the statute of limitations clock usually starts ticking as soon as the property owner becomes aware that someone else caused damage to their property.

Get more details on property damage and making a claim for compensation.

What Happens If You Miss the Minnesota Lawsuit-Filing Deadline?

If you try to file your property damage lawsuit after the deadline set by the Minnesota statute of limitations has passed, the defendant (the person you're trying to sue) will almost certainly make a motion asking the court to dismiss the case. And, except in rare cases where an exemption from the deadline applies (more on these exceptions in the next section), the court will grant the dismissal.

If that happens, you've essentially lost your right to any legal remedy for your damaged property. So, even if you're pretty sure your property damage case will settle, and even though six years sounds like a long time, you still want to leave yourself plenty of time to file a lawsuit if you need to.

Extending the Statute of Limitations Deadline in Minnesota

In a Minnesota property damage lawsuit—and most other kinds of civil lawsuits, for that matter—a number of situations could pause ("toll" in legalese) the statute of limitations clock, effectively extending the lawsuit filing deadline. Let's look at a few examples.

When the defendant Is out of the state for any period of time after the property damage occurs, and it's not possible to serve the lawsuit on them, in most instances the time of the defendant's absence won't be counted as part of the six-year statute of limitations period. (Minnesota Statutes section 541.13.)

If the property owner is under the age of 18 or has been declared legally incapacitated at the time the property damage occurs, or any time afterward, that kind of "legal disability" may suspend the running of the statute of limitations clock for a certain amount of time, but not for more than one year after the disability ceases (meaning the property owner turns 18 or is declared legally competent). (Minnesota Statutes section 541.15.)

Other circumstances may also act to effectively extend the six-year Minnesota statute of limitations time limit, but they're too complicated to explain in this article. Do your own research or talk to an attorney for the details.

Where Should I File a Property Damage Lawsuit In Minnesota?

Minnesota's District Courts (also known as "trial" courts) have the power to hear most civil lawsuits in the state. In most situations, you'll file your property damage lawsuit in the Minnesota county where the person you're suing lives. Learn more about Minnesota's court system (from mncourts.gov).

Can I File a Minnesota Property Damage Case In Small Claims Court?

Yes. If you're not seeking more than $15,000 from the at-fault party as compensation for your property damage losses, you can file a small claims action in Minnesota's Conciliation Court.

Do I Need a Lawyer for a Minnesota Property Damage Claim?

If your property damage case is fairly straightforward, it usually makes sense to handle it on your own and try to get a fair settlement before you need to take the matter to court. It can even be a challenge finding a lawyer to take a run-of-the-mill property damage claim.

But reaching out to an experienced lawyer—if only to discuss your options—might be a good idea if, on top of your 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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