Property damage is defined as some harm that is inflicted upon someone’s property as the result of another person’s negligence, willful destruction of that person’s property, or by an act of nature. If your property has been damaged or destroyed by another party, you may want to know how you can hold the responsible party liable for the damages and receive compensation to cover your losses. States have varying laws when it comes to lawsuits regarding personal property claims.

Property damage may fall under two categories

  • Damage to your personal property, such as a vehicle
  • Damage to your real property such as a business building, house or land

A lawsuit that is filed to recover losses associated with property damage will usually award monetary compensation to cover the costs associated with the damaged property. It is important to keep the receipts of any repairs you have made to your property, as well as any other bills or appraisals related to the damage. If the court finds the defendant guilty of intentional damage to the property, then punitive damages may be awarded in order to punish the defendant for intentional misconduct.

Statute of limitations for Property Damage Lawsuits  

Florida statutes state that a four-year filing deadline applies to the following circumstances related to personal property and real property damage. Specifically, if you are looking to receive monetary compensation for damaged property, then you must file the lawsuit within the statute of limitations. Situations that may arise in a property damage lawsuit includes the following:

  • There are time limits for filing lawsuits based on negligence, which are called statutes of limitations. These statutes of limitations generally vary depending on the type of negligence alleged in a particular case, but typically it’s four years in Florida
  • Negligence caused the damage of your property
  • A failure in design, construction or planning that result in injury to real property
  • An action for taking, detaining or injuring personal property, which may be anything from jewelry, electronics, or a vehicle
  • Any action not specifically provided for in these statutes. This allows for a broader range of legal claims, in which situations involving personal property or real property not listed may result in a lawsuit

However, there are situations in which it is not possible to file a lawsuit within the four-year deadline. In these cases, the four-year limit may be extended. Examples include: the party who damaged your property lived out of state within the four years after the accident or incident; the party who damaged your property has changed his/her name, and therefore, cannot be served according to state law to begin a lawsuit; the plaintiff is a minor or has been declared legally incompetent. If you have faced property damage and are looking to file a lawsuit after the four-year deadline has passed, it is important to consult with a lawyer who is experienced with trial and litigation so that you understand what options you may have for a lawsuit.

Common defenses for property damage lawsuits

The defendant in a property damage lawsuit may be held liable for the damage but the compensatory damages awarded to the plaintiff may be slightly to significantly reduced if the defendant was found to be:

  • When the defendant was trying to defend himself, another person or another piece of property
  • The defendant may claim the property damage was necessary in order to prevent further property damage or harm to others