Damaged property can be an expensive endeavor to take care of. What seems like a minor issue at first can quickly grow to cost an impressive amount of money once you start the repair process. When it was first damaged, you thought you’d be able to handle it on your own. But as the cost grows, you realize that you need to seek compensation for the damages.
But time has passed since the initial damage, so will you even be able to sue over the damages? Did your initial optimism cost you your chance to seek the compensation you deserve? Keep reading to find out how long you have to sue over damaged property here in Salt Lake City.
What is the Statute of Limitations on Property Damage in Salt Lake City?
Different crimes and circumstances have different statutes of limitations. For some things, such as claims of libel or slander, you only have a year to sue. In contrast, you have six years to seek compensation for damage caused by wildland fire. This is important to note because the specifics in a case may allow for a longer period of time to seek compensation.
But in general, when it comes to damaged property in Salt Lake City, you have three years to sue. 78B-2-305 of the Utah Judicial Code sets forth that you have three years to sue:
- For waste, trespass upon, or injury to real property; except that when waste or trespass is committed by means of underground works upon any mining claim, the cause of action does not accrue until the discovery by the aggrieved party of the facts constituting the waste or trespass
- For taking, detaining, or injuring personal property, including actions for specific recovery
For issues that deal with underground works or livestock, different laws will come into effect. But assuming that your damaged property was neither livestock nor caused by some kind of underground venture then you have a three-year window to sue.
Take note of the language in that first bullet point. While the three-year window typically starts when the damage occurs, this isn’t always the case. The language suggests that the window to sue begins when the damage is discovered. So if you’re in a car accident, the damage would be clear immediately. But in cases where the damage isn’t immediately clear, the discovery of it is what will trigger the three-year window.
What Happens if You Miss the Deadline to Sue Over Damaged Property?
Life is busy and full of twists and turns, so it’s no surprise that you might get distracted by other pressing issues before getting a chance to sue over the damaged property. By the time you’re ready to look into suing, you realize that it’s been over three years since the discovery of the damage.
Can you still sue?
Technically, yes. But you’d be hard-pressed to find an attorney that recommends it.
If the three-year window to sue over damaged property has already expired, nothing is stopping you from trying to sue for it anyway. But the party you are suing can (and will) simply file a motion with the court asking for the case to be dismissed. Since the statute of limitations has already been passed, the court is extremely likely to dismiss the case.
If the statute of limitations has expired then, unfortunately, your best course of action is to let it go. However, there are some cases where the three-year window can be extended.
Can You Get the Statute of Limitations Extended for Property Damage in Salt Lake City?
We’ve already made note of some of the circumstances that could change the statute of limitations such as when the damage is caused by means of underground works. But there are other ways of getting the statute of limitations extended that come up more commonly.
If you are under the age of majority, which just means less than 18 years old, then it is possible that the statute of limitations won’t begin until your 18th birthday. Another reason for an extension is that you are declared mentally incompetent. The statute of limitations would begin once you were proven to be competent again.
Both of these cases assume that you have no set legal guardian. In cases where you do, the legal guardian’s presence would prevent you from being able to extend the statute of limitations.
While these are common situations, they happen much less frequently than the defendant leaving the state. If the person you are accusing of damaging your property has left Utah before a suit could be filed against them then the statute of limitations will work a little differently. Their time out of the state often will not be counted against the statute of limitations and so it could allow you to sue over the damages at a much later date than you normally could otherwise.
Don’t forget that the window of opportunity often starts from when the damage was discovered. So the damage may have been caused more than three years ago but if it was discovered less than three years ago then you could still sue over it.
How Do I Go About Suing Over Damaged Property?
When it comes to suing over damaged property, the best thing to do is work with an experienced attorney to build your case. You’ll need evidence that proves that the property was damaged and even more evidence that shows why the defendant was the one who caused the damage in the first place.
It might sound easy in writing but it’s harder to prove in court than you might think. That’s why an experienced attorney is such a valuable asset. They know exactly what it takes to win a case like yours because they’ve won them before.
To find out more about how a lawyer could help with your case, give 801-Injured a call at (801) 465-8733 for a free case review today.