Lots of things in life have an expiration date. Lawsuits involving real estate are no different.
When it comes to filing an action regarding your real property and your real property rights—whether it is a dispute about ownership, or use, damage, eviction or something else—if you do not act timely to enforce your rights, you will lose them.
Statute of Limitations.
If you have to file a lawsuit to vindicate your real property rights, your right to do so is limited by your state’s statute of limitations. A “statute of limitation” is the legal time period within which you may file your lawsuit. How long you have to file your action depends on what your state’s laws say and what type of lawsuit you are filing.
For example, in Georgia, the time limit for filing a lawsuit related to any of the following is 4 years:
- Damage to real property
- Injury to “personality” (i.e., almost any kind of property that isn’t considered real property, such as vehicles, furniture, jewelry, etc.)
- Any action seeking money damages for damaged or destroyed property (i.e., property damage claims arising out of personal injury cases).
It is critical for you to know what the statute of limitations is and what the deadline is for your case, because, if you miss the limitations deadline, and you have lost your right to sue forever. This may seem to be a harsh rule, but its purpose is to give defendants some sense of certainty. In other words, if a lawsuit is not brought within, for our purposes, 4 years, then it cannot be brought; limiting a civil defendant’s exposure.
There are, of course, some exceptions to the statute of limitations. One of them is called “tolling.” Tolling of the statute simply means that the deadline is extended for a certain reason. These reasons are limited. However, very briefly, some things that may toll the statute of limitations in a Georgia real property action include (are not limited to) the following:
- The defendant is out of state for any part of the 4-year period starting from the date on which the property damage occurred; or
- The plaintiff is legally incompetent (due to mental illness or intellectual disability) at the time of the incident; or
- The plaintiff is under the age of 18 at the time of the incident.
There are other situations (far too complicated to describe in this blog post) that could toll the statute of limitations. However, the point to remember is that, if you believe you may have a claim against someone else concerning your real property, you must be aware of how long you have to act on your rights.
Here to Help You With All Your Real Estate Needs.
At the Law Offices of Mark Weinstein, P.C., we understand real estate. Our practice is concentrated on real estate and related litigation issues. We serve clients in Atlanta, and in a number of counties throughout Georgia, including: Clayton County, Cobb County, Dekalb County, Douglas County, Fulton County, and Paulding County, among others. To find out how we can help you, call us at: 770-888-7707. Or contact us here.