Every state enforces strict time limits for filing a civil action, whether it's a malpractice lawsuit or a claim for collection of debt. These time limits are called statutes of limitations and differ for different types of legal actions. Generally, they are intended to ensure the integrity of physical evidence and witness testimony, while also removing the indefinite threat of a lawsuit (which could be used as blackmail in the absence of limits).
Montana Civil Statute of Limitations
Montana's time limits for filing a civil action generally range from two (2) to three (3) years, but judgement collection actions have a ten-year limit.
Tolling and the Discovery Rule
If we look at a given statute of limitations as a clock or stopwatch, then tolling refers to the way in which time is recorded. So if you suffer a personal injury but don't discover it until four years after the accident, the discovery rule allows you to begin tolling at the time the injury is discovered (or the cause of the injury). Another example is when the injured party is a minor and must wait a number of years before filing suit.
What If I Miss a Deadline To File a Civil Lawsuit In Montana?
A piece of advice: don't miss the deadline for filing your lawsuit. However, if you fail to bring suit within a prescribed time period, then the opposing party can assert the statute of limitations as a defense.
The opposing party can file a motion to dismiss the case alleging that the time allowed by law to bring a suit has passed. Once the judge dismisses the case, your legal claim is lost forever.
Below is a summary of civil statutes of limitations in Montana. See Details on State Civil Statute of Limitations and Time Limits to Bring a Case: The Statute of Limitations to learn more.
|Injury to Person||Injury: 3 yrs; Assault & Battery: 2 yrs. §27-2-204(3); Wrongful Death: 3 yrs. §27-2-204(2)|
|Libel/Slander||2 yrs. §27-2-204(3)|
|Fraud||2 yrs. §27-2-203|
|Injury to Personal Property||2 yrs. §27-2-207(2)|
|Professional Malpractice||Legal: 3 yrs. from discovery, max. 10 yrs. §27-2-206; Medical: 3 yrs., max. 5 yrs. §27-2-205|
|Trespass||2 yrs. §27-2-207(1)|
|Collection of Rents||3 yrs. obligation or liability other than contract not in writing §27-2-202(3)|
|Contracts||Written: 8 yrs. §27-2-202(1); Oral: 5 yrs. §27-2-202(2)|
|Collection of Debt on Account||3 yrs. obligation or liability other than contract not in writing §27-2-202(3)|
|Judgments||10 yrs. §27-2-201(2)|
|Product Liability||3 yrs. §27-2-204(1)|
|False Imprisonment||2 yrs. § 27-2-204(3)|
Note: State laws are always subject to change, usually through legislation, ballot initiative, or court ruling -- contact a Montana civil attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Research the Law:
Montana Civil Statute of Limitations : Related Resources
Free Case Review from a Montana Injury Attorney
A good Montana attorney will know the state's statutes as they apply to Montana's "discovery of harm" rule, tolling of statutes for incapacity, and other key factors that will maximize your financial compensation. So if you are dealing with a personal injury matter where you may be compensated, you should contact a Montana injury attorney for a free claim evaluation.
Contact a qualified attorney.