Statute Of Limitations In Rhode Island
They say time waits for no one. That’s true in the legal system, too.If you’ve been hurt or wronged by another person, you only have a small window of opportunity to file a lawsuit. But how much time do you have? Has the statute passed you by, or can you still pursue your claim? We’ll review that today in our guide to the statute of limitations in RI.
What is the statute of limitations?
The statute of limitations is a law limiting the amount of time that a person has to initiate legal action after the date of an offense. It’s essentially a deadline for a lawsuit.
Correspondingly, the statute of limitations applies to both civil and criminal cases, and the amount of time a person has to act varies from state to state, depending on the severity of the offense.
Is there a statute of limitations on civil cases in Rhode Island?
Yes. Like all states, Rhode Island employs the statute of limitations for civil offenses, including wrongful death, medical malpractice, personal injury, and more.
Noteworthy statutes of limitations for civil cases in Rhode Island include:
The Rhode Island wrongful death statute of limitations is 3 years.
What is considered wrongful death? According to Rhode Island general laws, a “wrongful death” happens when a person dies due to “the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another.” Rhode Island state law allows the deceased person’s parents, spouse, and children to submit separate wrongful death lawsuits within the statute of limitations.
The Rhode Island statute of limitations for personal injury cases is 3 years in Rhode Island.
“Personal injury” lawsuits occur when one person suffers bodily harm or an injury due to someone else’s negligence. Consequently, Personal injury claims can include injuries suffered directly in incidents like car accidents and slip and falls or through health problems created or exacerbated by negligence such as toxic mold exposure.
The statute of limitations for property damage lawsuits is 10 years.
Property damage claims involve damages to a person’s property through someone else’s careless or negligent actions. Property damage lawsuits can seek damages for “real property” such as your home or land and “personal property,” like a car.
The Rhode Island medical malpractice statute of limitations is 3 years.
Medical malpractice lawsuits are generally filed by patients who have been harmed or injured due to poor medical treatment from a medical provider. Medical malpractice lawsuits can be filed against doctors, nurses, technicians, or other medical workers.
Other Rhode Island statutes of limitations
Other statutes of limitations for Rhode Island civil offenses include:
- Toxic tort – 3 years
- Intentional tort – 3 years
- Libel and slander – 1 year
- Product liability – 3 years
- Fraud – 10 years
- False imprisonment – 3 years
- Legal malpractice – 3 years
- Assault and battery – 3 years
Read on for more information on Rhode Island’s general laws.
What happens if you file a suit outside of the statute of limitations?
If you try to file a suit after the statute has already passed, the court will generally dismiss your claim. However,certain exceptions do exist. Sometimes, the full effects of an accident aren’t always apparent right away. It can take months or years for the true consequences to fully set in, which is where the discovery rule comes into play.
Exceptions to the statute of limitations
In Rhode Island, the statute of limitations follows a principle called the “discovery of harm” rule. Under the discovery rule, a victim can file a lawsuit from the date that they knew, or should have known, about the damages instead of the date those damages occurred.
For example, say someone rear-ends your car, causing you to suffer whiplash. You might not feel the effects immediately after the accident, and your doctor might not find anything amiss either. Instead, you begin to experience pain, numbness, and dizziness years after the fact. You later discover that the whiplash exacerbated your existing neck and back problems, causing a long-term blow to your quality of life.
With the discovery of harm rule in Rhode Island, you could argue that you had no way of knowing about the whiplash injury within the statute of limitations. Therefore, the statute of limitations would “clock” from the date you discovered the truth instead of the date of the accident.
However, filing a claim with the discovery of harm rule presents a unique set of challenges. For instance, the person filing needs to prove that there was no way they could have known despite reasonable due diligence, like going to the doctor after a car accident.
The more time passes between the event and the lawsuit’s filing date, the fuzzier the details become, and more evidence can be lost to time. If you want to file a case using “discovery of harm” rule, you must gather evidence that supports your case. Nevertheless, the process is complicated and confusing, so having a lawyer comes in handy.
Do you have questions about the RI statute of limitations?
If you have questions about the statute of limitations and your case, Petrarca Law is here for you.
As experienced Providence lawyers, we’ve fought for our client’s rights in personal injury, property damage, and other civil cases. We can help you gather evidence for your case, negotiate for a settlement outside of court, and even fight for your rights inside a courtroom. We’ll take care of everything for you, letting you focus on getting your life back together.
Contact our office for a free consultation and talk with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer today.