What is the Property Damage Statute of Limitations in Ohio?

Comply with Ohio's statute of limitations deadline or you'll lose your right to file a lawsuit over damaged or destroyed property.

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

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.

What Is a "Statute of Limitations?"

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.

What Is the Filing Deadline for Property Damage Lawsuits In Ohio?

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. And for property damage caused by a construction defect, a number of factors can dictate the applicable deadline.

The Ohio Statute of Limitations for Damage to Real 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).

The Ohio Statute of Limitations for Damage to Personal Property

For lawsuits over damage to personal property (including vehicle damage), Ohio Revised Code section 2305.10 says this kind of civil case must be filed within two years.

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.

Get the details on making a claim for property damage.

What Ohio Statute of Limitations Applies to Construction Defects?

The four year deadline we discussed above might apply to a lawsuit over real property damage resulting from a construction defect in Ohio, if the basis for the lawsuit is the builder or contractor's negligence. But a different deadline might apply if the lawsuit is focused more on a broken contract or breached warranty stemming from the construction.

Whichever filing deadline applies, it can be tricky to figure out exactly when the "clock" starts running in construction defect cases. And there's an over-arching deadline (called a "statute of repose" in the language of the law) that says most Ohio construction defect lawsuits must be filed within ten years of the completion of the project, regardless of whether the problem was (or could reasonably have been) discovered before then.

What's more, before you file any Ohio construction defect lawsuit, under Ohio Revised Code section 1312.03, the builder or contractor might have the legal right to:

  • notice of the alleged construction defect, and
  • a chance to offer to repair or pay for the claimed defect.

Talking with an Ohio lawyer might make sense if you think your property damage case involves a construction defect, since this area of the law can get pretty complicated. Learn more about legal issues related to home defects and damage.

What Happens If You Miss the Lawsuit-Filing Deadline In Ohio?

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 your case is dismissed, 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.

Learn more about the statute of limitations deadline in civil cases.

Can the Statute of Limitations Deadline Be Extended In Ohio?

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:

  • if the defendant is imprisoned for any part of the statute of limitations period, the running of the statute of limitations "clock" is suspended for the length of the imprisonment, according to Ohio Revised Code section 2305.15, and
  • if the property owner is under the age of 18 or has been declared "of unsound mind" at the time the property damage occurs, the time of the disability is not included in the statute of limitations period. (Ohio Revised Code section 2305.16)

Other exceptions may also apply to extend the Ohio statute of limitations time limit, but they're too complex to cover in this article. Do some additional research or talk with an experienced Ohio attorney for the details.

Where Do I File a Property Damage Lawsuit In Ohio?

Most Ohio property damage lawsuits are filed in the state's "Courts of Common Pleas," which hear all kinds of civil cases in which the plaintiff is asking for more than $5,000. Chances are, you'll file your property damage lawsuit in the court that serves the county where the person you're suing lives. Find courts in Ohio and learn more about the Ohio court system.

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

If you're not planning on asking for more than $6,000 as compensation for your property damage, you might want to consider the option of small claims court. Learn more about Ohio Small Claims Court.

Do I Need a Lawyer for an Ohio Property Damage Claim?

It can be challenging to find a lawyer who's willing to take a run-of-the-mill property damage case, so if your claim is fairly straightforward, it usually makes sense to handle it on your own, especially if there's an insurance policy in play. In that situation, it's often a good strategy to try getting a fair insurance settlement before filing a lawsuit in court.

If your case involves personal injury, a construction defect, or some other legal issue in addition to property damage, discussing your options with an experienced Ohio lawyer might be a good idea. Get tips on finding the right lawyer for you and your case.

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