"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 a car accident, but in other states you may have two years. As general rules:

  • 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 Rhode Island for various civil claims and crimes. The list doesn't cover everything. Also, the laws may change at any time, 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 9, Chapter 9.1 of the Rhode Island General laws. You can scroll through the laws in this Chapter to find the statute of limitations for civil claims or "causes of action" not listed below.

Description

Statute

Assault and Battery, 3 years

R.I. Gen. Laws § 9-1-14(b)   

Contract (in writing), 10 years

R.I. Gen. Laws § 9-1-13(a)

Contract (oral or not in writing), 10 years 

R.I. Gen. Laws § 9-1-13(a)

False Imprisonment, 3 years

R.I. Gen. Laws § 9-1-14(b)

Fraud, 10 years

R.I. Gen. Laws § 9-1-13(a)

Enforcing Court Judgments, 20 years

R.I. Gen. Laws § 9-1-17

Legal Malpractice, 3 yeas

R.I. Gen. Laws § 9-1-14.3

Libel, 3 years

R.I. Gen. Laws § 9-1-14(b)

Medical Malpractice, 3 years

R.I. Gen. Laws § 9-1-14.1

Personal Injury, 3 years

R.I. Gen. Laws § 9-1-14(b)

Product Liability, 3 years

R.I. Gen. Laws § 9-1-14(b)

Property Damage, 10 years

R.I. Gen. Laws § 9-1-13(a)

Slander, 1 year

R.I. Gen. Laws § 9-1-14(a)

Wrongful Death, 3 years

R.I. Gen. Laws § 10-7-2

Criminal

Note: Most of the criminal statutes of limitations are in Title 12, Chapter 12 of the Rhode Island General laws. You can scroll through the criminal laws (found in Title 11) to find crimes not listed below, and then use § 12-12-17 and R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-1-2 to find the statutes of limitations for those crimes.

Description

Statute

Arson, No time limit or 3 years (Depending on the facts of the case) 

R.I. Gen. Laws § 12-12-17(a) or (c)   

Assault and Battery, 3 years

R.I. Gen. Laws § 12-12-17(c)

Burglary, No time limit

R.I. Gen. Laws § 12-12-17(a)

Disorderly Conduct, 3 years

R.I. Gen. Laws § 12-12-17(c)

Kidnapping, 3 years

R.I. Gen. Laws § 12-12-17(c)

Manslaughter, No time limit

R.I. Gen. Laws § 12-12-17(a)

Murder, first degree, No time limit

R.I. Gen. Laws § 12-12-17(a)

Murder, second degree, No time limit

R.I. Gen. Laws § 12-12-17(a)

Rape, No time limit

R.I. Gen. Laws § 12-12-17(a)     

Receiving Stolen Property, 10 years

R.I. Gen. Laws § 12-12-17(b)

Robbery, No time limit

R.I. Gen. Laws § 12-12-17(a)

Theft, 10 or 3 years (Depending on the facts of the case)

R.I. Gen. Laws § 12-12-17(b) or (c)

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