If you've had your property damaged in Ohio, you could be thinking about filing a lawsuit against the person responsible for what happened. If so, it’s important to understand the Ohio statute of limitations for property damage claims, whether your potential case involves real property (damage to your house or your land) or personal property.
For those unfamiliar with the term, a "statute of limitations" is just a state law that affects your right to file a lawsuit over any kind of legal dispute or harm suffered, by putting a limit on how much time is allowed to pass before you file the case. Every state has passed these laws, and the time limits vary depending on the subject matter of the lawsuit.
In Ohio, the filing deadline that applies to a property damage lawsuit varies, depending on whether the plaintiff (the person filing the lawsuit) is seeking the repair or replacement of damaged or destroyed real property or personal property.
The Ohio lawsuit filing deadline is four years from the date of any tort (wrongful action) that results in damage to real property (like a house or other structure, or land itself) (Ohio Revised Code section 2305.09).
It's important to note that these filing deadlines apply any time you’re asking a court to award you monetary compensation for damaged or destroyed property, whether that claim is part of a larger legal action or a standalone lawsuit.
If the filing deadline set by the statute of limitations has passed, but you try to file your property damage lawsuit anyway, the defendant (the person or organization 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, you still want to leave yourself plenty of time to file a lawsuit if you need to.
In a Ohio property damage lawsuit -- and most other kinds of civil lawsuits, for that matter -- a number of situations could pause ("toll" in legalese) or extend the statute of limitations deadline. These include:
Other exceptions may also apply to extend the Ohio statute of limitations time limit, but they're too complex to cover in this article. To learn the details of exceptions to the statute of limitations, especially if the filing deadline has passed on your property damage lawsuit -- or if the filing deadline is fast approaching -- talk with an experienced Ohio attorney.