"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 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 Tennessee 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 28 of the Tennessee Code. You can scroll through the laws in this Title to find the statute of limitations for civil claims or "causes of action" not listed below.

Description

Statute

Assault and Battery, 1 year

Tenn. Code § 28-3-104(a)(1)

Contract (in writing), 6 years

Tenn. Code § 28-3-109(a)(3)

Contract (oral or not in writing), 6 years    

Tenn. Code § 28-3-109(a)(3)

False Imprisonment, 1 year

Tenn. Code § 28-3-104(a)(1)

Fraud, 3 years

Tenn. Code § 28-3-105(1) and (2)

Enforcing Court Judgments, 10 years

Tenn. Code § 28-3-110(2)

Legal Malpractice, 1 year

Tenn. Code § 28-3-104(a)(2)

Libel, 1 year

Tenn. Code § 28-3-104(a)(1)

Medical Malpractice, 1 year

Tenn. Code §§ 29-26-116(a)(1) and 28-3-104(a)(1)     

Personal Injury, 1 year

Tenn. Code § 28-3-104(a)(1)

Product Liability, 6 or 10 years

Tenn. Code § 28-3-104(a)(1) and (b)

Property Damage, 3 years

Tenn. Code § 28-3-105(1)

Slander, 6 months

Tenn. Code § 28-3-103

Trespass, 3 years

Tenn. Code § 28-3-105(1)

Wrongful Death, 1 year

Tenn. Code § 28-3-104(a)(1)

Criminal

Note: Most of the criminal statutes of limitations are in Title 40, Chapter 2 of the Tennessee Code. You can scroll through the criminal laws (found in Title 39 ) to find crimes not listed below, and then use Title 40, Chapter 2 to find the statutes of limitations for those crimes.

Description

Statute

Arson, 8 years

Tenn. Code § 40-2-101(d)

Assault, 1 or 4 years (Depending on the facts of the case)

Tenn. Code § 40-2-101(b)(3) and Tenn. Code § 40-2-102(a)

Burglary, 2, 4, or 8 years (Depending on the facts of the case)

Tenn. Code § 40-2-101(b)(2) or (3) or (4)

Disorderly Conduct, 1 year

Tenn. Code § 40-2-102(a)

Kidnapping, 4, 8, or 15 years (Depending on the facts of the case)     

Tenn. Code § 40-2-101(b)(1) or (2) or (3)      

Manslaughter, voluntary, 4 years

Tenn. Code § 40-2-101(b)(3)

Murder, first degree, No time limit

Tenn. Code § 40-2-101(a)

Murder, second degree, 15 years

Tenn. Code § 40-2-101(b)(1)

Rape, 8 or 15 years (Depending on the facts of the case)

Tenn. Code § 40-2-101(b)(1) or (2)

Receiving Stolen Property, 1, 2, 4, or 8 years (Depending on the facts of the case)    

Tenn. Code § 40-2-101(b)(2) or (3) or (4) or Tenn. Code § 40-2-102(a)

Robbery, 4, 8, or 15 years (Depending on the facts of the case)

Tenn. Code § 40-2-101(b)(1) or (2) or (3)    

Theft, 1, 2, 4, or 8 years (Depending on the facts of the case)

Tenn. Code § 40-2-101(b)(2) or (3) or (4) or Tenn. Code § 40-2-102(a)

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