"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 Washington 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 4, Chapter 4.16 of the Revised Code of Washington. 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, 2 year

Wash. Rev. Code § 4.16.100(1)

Contract (in writing), 6 years

Wash. Rev. Code § 4.16.040(1)

Contract (oral or not in writing), 3 years

Wash. Rev. Code § 4.16.080(3)

False Imprisonment, 2 year

Wash. Rev. Code § 4.16.100(1)

Fraud, 3 years

Wash. Rev. Code § 4.16.080(4)

Enforcing Court Judgments, 10 years

Wash. Rev. Code § 4.16.020(2)

Legal Malpractice, 3 years

Wash. Rev. Code § 4.16.080(2)

Libel, 2 year

Wash. Rev. Code § 4.16.100(1)

Medical Malpractice, 3 years

Wash. Rev. Code § 4.16.350

Personal Injury, 3 years

Wash. Rev. Code § 4.16.080(2)

Product Liability, 3 years

Wash. Rev. Code § 7.72.060(3)

Property Damage, 3 years

Wash. Rev. Code § 4.16.080(2)

Slander, 2 year

Wash. Rev. Code § 4.16.100(1)

Trespass, 3 years

Wash. Rev. Code § 4.16.080(1)

Wrongful Death, 3 years

Wash. Rev. Code § 4.16.080(2)

Criminal

Note: Most of the criminal statutes of limitations are in Wash. Rev. Code § 9A.04.080. You can scroll through the criminal laws (found throughout Title 9A) to find crimes not listed below, and then use § 9A.04.080 to find the statutes of limitations for those crimes.

Description

Statute

Arson, No time limit or 10 years (Depending on the facts of the case)

Wash. Rev. Code § 9A.04.080(1)(a)(iii) or (b)(ii)

Assault, 2 or 3 years (Depending on the facts of the case)

Wash. Rev. Code § 9A.04.080(1)(h) or (i)

Burglary, 3 years

Wash. Rev. Code § 9A.04.080(1)(h)

Disorderly Conduct, 1 year

Wash. Rev. Code § 9A.04.080(1)(j)

Kidnapping, 3 years

Wash. Rev. Code § 9A.04.080(1)(h)

Manslaughter, first degree, 3 years

Wash. Rev. Code § 9A.04.080(1)(h)

Manslaughter, second degree, 3 years

Wash. Rev. Code § 9A.04.080(1)(h)

Murder, first degree, No time limit

Wash. Rev. Code § 9A.04.080(1)(a)(i)

Murder, second degree, No time limit

Wash. Rev. Code § 9A.04.080(1)(a)(i)

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

Wash. Rev. Code § 9A.04.080(b)(iii)

Receiving Stolen Property ("Possessing Stolen Property"), 2 or 3 years (Depending on the facts of the case)

Wash. Rev. Code § 9A.04.080(1)(h) or (i)

Robbery, 3 years

Wash. Rev. Code § 9A.04.080(1)(h)

Theft, 2 or 3 years (Depending on the facts of the case)

Wash. Rev. Code § 9A.04.080(1)(h) or (i)

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