"Statutes of limitations" are laws that set time limits on how long you have to file a "civil" lawsuit, like a personal injury lawsuit, or how long the state has to prosecute someone for committing a crime. These time limits usually depend on the legal claim or crime involved in the case, and they're different from state to state. For example, in some states you may have three years to file a personal injury lawsuit after you were hurt in car accident, but in other states you may have two years. As a general rule:

  • The time period begins to run on the date your claim arises or "accrues," like the day of the car accident, or when a crime is committed, and
  • Once the statute of limitations has expired or "run," you can't file a lawsuit (or be prosecuted for a crime)

Below are the statutes of limitations in Iowa for various civil claims and crimes. The list doesn't cover everything. Also, the laws may change at anytime, so be sure to check the current laws and read them carefully, or talk to an attorney if you have any questions.

Civil

Note: Most of the civil statutes of limitations are in Title 15, Subtitle 3, Chapter 614 of the Iowa Code. You need to use the links on the web site to get to the code sections noted below, or run a search using the code section number. Also, you can scroll through the laws in Chapter 614 to find the statute of limitations for civil claims or "causes of action" not listed below.

Description

Statute

Assault and Battery, 2 years

Iowa Code § 614.1(2)

Contract (in writing), 10 years

Iowa Code § 614.1(6)

Contract (oral or not in writing), 5 years

Iowa Code § 614.1(4)

False Imprisonment, 2 years

Iowa Code § 614.1(2)

Fraud, 5 years

Iowa Code § 614.1(4)

Enforcing Court Judgments, 20 years

Iowa Code § 614.1(6)

Legal Malpractice, 2 or 5 years (Depending on the facts of the case)

Iowa Code § 614.1(2) or Iowa Code § 614.1(2) or (4)

Libel, 2 years

Iowa Code § 614.1(2)

Medical Malpractice, 2 years

Iowa Code § 614.1(9)(a)

Personal Injury, 2 years

Iowa Code § 614.1(2)

Product Liability, 2 years

Iowa Code § 614.1(2)

Property Damage, 5 years

Iowa Code § 614.1(4)

Slander, 2 years

Iowa Code § 614.1(2)

Trespass, 2 years

Iowa Code § 614.1(4)

Wrongful Death, 2 years

Iowa Code § 614.1(2)

Criminal

Note: Most of the Iowa criminal statutes of limitations are in Title 16, Subtitle 2, Chapter 802 of the Iowa Code. You need to use the links on the web site to get to the code sections noted below, or run a search using the code section number. Also, you can scroll through the criminal laws (found in Title 16, Subtitle 2) to find crimes not listed below, and then use Title 16, Subtitle 2, Chapter 802 to find the statutes of limitations for those crimes.

Description

Statute

Arson, 3 years

Iowa Code § 802.3

Assault and Battery, 3 years

Iowa Code § 802.3

Burglary, 3 years

Iowa Code § 802.3

Disorderly Conduct, 1 year

Iowa Code § 802.4

Kidnapping, 3 years

Iowa Code § 802.3

Manslaughter, voluntary, 3 years

Iowa Code § 802.3

Manslaughter, involuntary, 3 years

Iowa Code § 802.3

Murder, first degree, No time limit

Iowa Code § 802.1

Murder, second degree, No time limit

Iowa Code § 802.1

Rape (Sexual Abuse), 3 or 10 years (Depending on the facts of the case)

Iowa Code § 802.2 or 802.3

Receiving Stolen Property, 1 or 3 years (Depending on the facts of the case)

Iowa Code § 802.3 or 802.4

Robbery, 3 years

Iowa Code § 802.3

Theft, 1 or 3 years (Depending on the facts of the case)

Iowa Code § 802.3 or 802.4

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