Statute of Limitations
1. Personal Injury
The general statute of limitations for personal injury, including wrongful death, in the state of Montana is three years. M.C.A. §27-2-204(2)
2. Libel and Slander
The general statute of limitations for libel and slander is two years. M.C.A. §27-2-204(3)
3. Property Damage
The general statute of limitations for property damage in the state of Montana is two years. M.C.A. §27-2-207. There are, however, Montana Supreme Court decisions suggesting the three-year statute of limitations applies when property damage is the result of a defendant’s negligence. Semenza v. Bowman, 268 Mont. 118, 885 P.2d 452 (1994).
The statute of limitations for an action based upon a written contract is eight years. The statute of limitations for an action based upon a non-written contract is five years. M.C.A. §27-2-202(1) & (2).
5. Bad Faith
An insured must bring action under Montana’s Unfair Trade Practices Act within two years. M.C.A. §33-18-242(7)(a). A third party claimant must bring an Unfair Trade Practices Act claim within one year from the settlement or entry of judgment in the underlying action. M.C.A. §33-18-242(7)(b). A third party claimant must bring a common law bad faith claim within the general three year statute of limitations for torts. Brewington v. Employers Fire Insurance Co., 1999 MT 312, 992 P.2d 237 (1999).
6. Conflicting Statute of Limitations
When there is a substantial question as to which of two statutes of limitations should apply, Montana courts must apply the longer of the statutes. Royal Insurance v. Roadamel, 2000 MT 259, 11 P.3d 105 (2000).
7. Service of Summons and Complaint
In Montana, a plaintiff has three years to serve process on a defendant. If service is not accomplished after three years, and the complaint was filed after January 1, 2000, the court must dismiss the action without prejudice.
If the complaint was filed before January 1, 2000, and service was not effected within three years, the action must be dismissed with prejudice. Mont.R.Civ.P., Rule 4E(1); Former Mont.R.Civ.P., Rule 41(e); Hartford v. Credit Bureau, Inc., 1998 Mont. 179, 962 P.2d 1198 (1998).
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