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Maine Civil Statute of Limitations Laws

Were you in a car accident over a year ago and are worried now about what you need to do to get compensated for your injuries? One of the first things to determine in considering your legal options is the deadline for filing a lawsuit.

Each state has developed laws that limit the amount of time between an accident or injury and the filing of a civil suit. These time limits are called the “statute of limitations.” Both criminal and civil cases have time limits. Many states have similar time limits for similar types of actions. This article provides a brief summary of civil statute of limitation laws in Maine.

Discovery and “Tolling”

The point at which the clock starts ticking to sue is typically the date of the incident or the discovery of the harm. For example, if you didn’t realize a sponge was left inside you after a surgery, then you wouldn’t have to sue before you knew about the problem. The medical malpractice lawsuit time to sue would be “tolled” or suspended until the discovery of the harm.

Statutes of Limitations in Maine

Statutes of limitations vary greatly. At the top end in Maine, a civil action based on a sexual act committed or engaged in with a minor has no time limit and can be commenced any time. At the short end, there are a few actions that must be brought within one year, including for sureties on criminal case bonds.

The chart below highlights some of the common civil statute of limitations in Maine.

Injury to Person Typically, 6 years, unless based on assault, battery, or false imprisonment, then it’s 2 years.
Injury to Personal Property All civil acts must commence within 6 years, unless another limit is provided by law elsewhere, under Maine Code Revised Title 14, Section 752.
Fraud Must start lawsuit within 6 years of discovering the fraud.
Libel or Slander 2 years under Maine Code Revised Title 14, Section 753
Trespass 6 years
Professional Malpractice Depends on the type of professional:
  • Architects, Engineers, and Land Surveyors: Within 4 years of discovery of the negligence or malpractice, but no later than 10 years after completion of construction or services contract
  • Attorneys: Typically 2 years, however real estate title opinions can be started after discovery up to a maximum of 20 years later, and the will drafting time limit doesn’t start until the negligence is discovered (could be after the client has passed)
  • Medical Providers: 3 years, although minors have 6 years or 3 years after reaching adulthood, whichever comes first, and mental health provider malpractice based on sexual acts has a different limit of up to 6 years (until July 1, 2017)
Contracts Written contracts under seal or promissory notes signed by witnesses and other evidence of bank debt must be started within 20 years.
Collection of Rent 6 years
Collection of Debt on Account 6 years
Court Judgments Court judgments and decrees are presumed paid at the end of 20 years, under Maine Code Revised Title 14, Section 864.

If you’re looking at this table and realizing it’s been a long time since someone wronged you, then you should quickly consult an experienced Mainer civil litigation attorney so you don’t lose your right to bring your claim. On the other hand, keep these dates in mind if you’re worried about being sued over something that happened many years ago.

Note: State laws are revised regularly. Please contact a lawyer or conduct your own legal research to verify these state laws.

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