If you've had your property damaged in North Dakota, maybe you're considering filing a lawsuit against the person you think is responsible. If so, 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 North Dakota, the consequences of missing the deadline, and a few rare situations in which you might be able to extend the time limit.
In North Dakota, whether your potential case involves damage to real property (your house or your land, for example) or personal property (including vehicle damage), it must be brought to the state's civil court system within six years. This rule can be found at North Dakota Century Code section 28-01-16.
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 North Dakota. 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.
What happens if you try to file your North Dakota 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 this later).
If that happens, you've essentially lost your right to any legal remedy for your damaged property. Six years is a long time, but you might not get around to enforcing your rights for a while, even informally, and it can take some time to resolve even the simplest of legal disputes. So it's crucial to pay attention to the North Dakota deadline and make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to file a lawsuit if you need to.
For most kinds of civil lawsuits in North Dakota -- including property damage claims -- a number of (relatively rare) situations could effectively extend the six-year lawsuit filing deadline.
For example, if, at the time the property damage occurs, the property owner is under the age of 18, has been declared insane, or has been imprisoned for something less than a life term, special rules apply. In those situations, the property owner is considered to be under a "legal disability," and the six-year "clock" typically won't start running until the period of disability ends (meaning the property owner turns 18, is declared sane, or is released from incarceration). But it's important to note that except for property owners who are under 18, the disability can't extend the filing period for more than five years. And whatever the disability, once it ends, the property owner can't wait more than one year to get his or her lawsuit filed. This rule can be found at North Dakota Century Code section 28-01-25.
Other circumstances may affect the North Dakota 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 North Dakota attorney will have the answers. Learn more about Finding an Excellent Lawyer.