If you've had your property damaged through someone else's careless or intentional action in Nebraska, and you're considering filing a lawsuit over what happened, it's critical to understand the statute of limitations and how it applies to your potential civil case.
A "statute of limitations", for those not familiar with the term, is a state law that puts a strictly-enforced limit on how much time can pass before you must file your case. Miss the deadline and you effectively lose the right to file your lawsuit 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 property damage lawsuit filing deadline in Nebraska, the consequences of missing the deadline, and a few rare situations in which you might be able to extend the time limit.
In Nebraska, the filing deadline that applies to a property damage lawsuit is the same regardless of whether the plaintiff (the person filing the lawsuit) is seeking the repair or replacement of damaged or destroyed real property(which includes damage to a house or other structure, or to land itself) or personal property.
According to Nebraska Revised Statute 25-207, any lawsuit over damage to or destruction of property must be filed within four years of the underlying action.
So, if a homeowner wants to bring a lawsuit for physical damage to the exterior of his/her house after a car crashes into it, that case must be brought within four years in Nebraska. The same goes for a vehicle damage claim after a car accident. 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.
It's important to note that this filing deadline applies any time you’re asking a court to award you monetary compensation for damaged or destroyed property in Nebraska, whether that claim is part of a larger legal action or a standalone lawsuit.
What happens if you try to file your Nebraska property damage lawsuit after the four-year time limit has passed? 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 this later).
If that happens, 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 Nebraska statute of limitations for property damage claims.
For most kinds of civil lawsuits in Nebraska -- including property damage claims -- a number of (relatively rare) situations could effectively extend the statutory filing deadline.
For example, special rules apply in Nebraska if, at the time the property damage occurs, the property owner is under the age of 20, has a "mental disorder" affecting his or her legal competence, or is imprisoned. In those situations, since the property owner is considered under a "legal disability", once the period of disability ends (meaning the property owner turns 20, is deemed competent to sue, or is released from incarceration), he or she will have four years to get the lawsuit filed. This rule can be found at Nebraska Revised Statute 25-213.
Other circumstances may affect the Nebraska statute of limitations, and how it's calculated. If you've got questions about the statute of limitations as it applies to your potential property damage lawsuit, an experienced Nebraska attorney will have the answers. Learn more about Finding an Excellent Lawyer.