"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 Wisconsin 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 Chapter 893 of the Wisconsin Statutes. To see the code sections listed below, use the navigation tools on the page provided, or run a search using the section number. Also, you can scroll through the laws in Chapter 893 to find the statute of limitations for civil claims or "causes of action" not listed below.

Description

Statute

Assault and Battery, 2 years

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 893.57

Contract (in writing), 6 years

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 893.43

Contract (oral or not in writing), 6 years

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 893.43

False Imprisonment, 2 years

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 893.57

Fraud, 6 years

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 893.93(1)(b)

Enforcing Court Judgments, 6 or 20 years (Depending on the type of court that entered the judgment)

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 893.40 and 893.42

Legal Malpractice, 6 years

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 893.53

Libel, 2 years

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 893.57

Medical Malpractice, 3 years

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 893.55(1m)(a)

Personal Injury, 3 years

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 893.54(1)

Product Liability, 3 years

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 893.54(1)

Property Damage, 6 years

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 893.52

Slander, 2 years

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 893.57

Trespass, 6 years

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 893.52

Wrongful Death, 3 years

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 893.54(2)

Criminal

Note: Most of the criminal statutes of limitations generally are in Wis. Stat. Ann. § 939.74. To see the code sections listed below, use the navigation tools on the page provided, or run a search using the section number. Also, you can scroll through the criminal laws (found in Chapter 940 through 951 of the Wisconsin Statutes) to find crimes not listed below, and then use § 939.74 to find the statutes of limitations for those crimes.

Description

Statute

Arson, 6 years

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 939.74(1)

Battery, 3 or 6 years (Depending on the facts of the case)

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 939.74(1)

Burglary, 6 years

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 939.74(1)

Disorderly Conduct, 3 years

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 939.74(1)

Kidnapping, 6 years

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 939.74(1)

Murder, first degree ("First Degree Intentional Homicide"), No time limit

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 939.74(2)(a)

Murder, second degree ("Second Degree Intentional Homicide"), No time limit

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 939.74(2)(a)

Rape ("Sexual Assault"), 6 years

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 939.74(1)

Receiving Stolen Property, 3 or 6 years (Depending on the facts of the case)

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 939.74(1)

Reckless Homicide, first degree No time limit

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 939.74(2)(a)

Reckless Homicide, second degree 15 years

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 939.74(2)(am)

Robbery, 6 years

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 939.74(1)

Theft, 3 or 6 years (Depending on the facts of the case)

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 939.74(1)

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