Covid-19 Tolling of Statutes of Limitations in Rhode Island
The United States and the world as a whole are currently in the midst of dealing with the ramifications of the COVID-19 epidemic. Due to this, many states have decided to make adjustments to their statutes of limitations for the time being to account for the quarantine policies put in place to slow the spread of the disease.
In accordance with Supreme Court Executive Order 2020-09, any filing deadlines in Rhode Island that would have expired between March 17, 2020 and May 17, 2020 were extended to May 29, 2020. Any deadlines taking place after May 17, 2020 are not to be extended unless a motion is made and granted by the correct court.
What is the Statute of Limitations in Rhode Island (RI)?
When choosing to pursue legal action, each type of case has a set deadline you must file by known as a statute of limitations. RI, as with all states, has its own statutes. Although the Rhode Island statute of limitations for personal injury is three years, in North Dakota you would have six years to file a personal injury claim.
|Negligence / Personal Injury||3 years|
|Toxic Tort||3 years|
|Wrongful Death||3 years|
|Medical Malpractice||3 years|
|Malpractice (Other Professions)||3 years|
|Products Liability||3 years|
|Intentional Torts||3 Years except 1 year for libel and slander|
|Municipal Liability/Sovereign Immunity||3 years|
This table is a brief overview of some of the statutes of limitations in place in Rhode Island. For a more comprehensive and detailed explanation of them, be sure to read the section below.
Negligence / Personal Injury
3 Years with Discovery Rule.
3 Years Actions for injuries to the person shall be commenced and sued within three (3) years next after the cause of action shall accrue, and not after, except as provided for otherwise in subsection (c) herein.
(c) As to an action for personal injuries wherein an injured party is entitled to proceed against an insurer pursuant to § 27-7-2, where an action is otherwise properly filed against an insured within the time limitations provided for by this section, and process against the insured tortfeasor has been returned “non est inventus” and filed with the court, then the statutory limitation for filing an action under § 27-7-2 directly against an insurer shall be extended an additional one hundred twenty (120) days after the expiration of the time limitation provided for in subsection (b) herein. R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 9-1-14
3 Years With respect to any death caused by any wrongful act, neglect or default which is not known at the time of death, the action shall be commenced within three (3) years of the time that the wrongful act, neglect or default is discovered or, in the exercise of reasonable diligence, should have been discovered. R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 10-7-2
3 Years Notwithstanding the provisions of §§ 9-1-13 and 9-1-14, an action for medical, veterinarian, accounting, or insurance or real estate agent or broker malpractice shall be commenced within three (3) years from the time of the occurrence of the incident which gave rise to the action R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 9-1-14.1
In Wilkinson v. Harrington, 104 R.I. 224, 237, 243 A.2d 745, 752 (1968), we held that the discovery rule applied to a medical malpractice case wherein an injury remained latent for years, undiscoverable by the victim. Ashey v. Kupchan, 618 A.2d 1268, 1269-70 (R.I. 1993).
Malpractice (Other Professions)
3 Years for legal, veterinarian, accounting and real-estate malpractice with discovery rule.
3 Years Actions for injuries to the person shall be commenced and sued within three (3) years next after the cause of action shall accrue, and not after, except as provided for otherwise in subsection (c) herein. R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 9-1-14
The statute of limitations in a drug product liability case begins to run when the person discovers or should have discovered with reasonable diligence the wrongful conduct of the manufacturer. Anthony v. Abbott Laboratories, 490 A.2d 43 (R.I. 1985). No statute of repose; ruled unconstitutional in Kennedy v. Cumberland, 471 A.2d 195 (R.I. 1984). 10 year catch-all SOL for all civil actions, unless otherwise specficially provided. R.I.Gen. Laws 1956 9-1-13.
3 Years except 1 year for libel and slander.
10 Years (a) Except as otherwise specially provided, all civil actions shall be commenced within ten (10) years next after the cause of action shall accrue, and not after. R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 9-1-13
Bourdon’s, Inc. v. Ecin Indust., 704 A.2d 747, 749 (R.I. 1997) ( we hold that the applicable period of limitations for actions for fraud and deceit is the ten-year period found in G.L.1956 § 9-1-13(a), and we further hold that the Statute of Frauds, § 9-1-4, is inapplicable to a claim of misrepresentation, fraud, and/or deceit)
Municipal Liability/Sovereign Immunity
3 Years If arising out of maintenance of streets, highways, or bridges, 60 day notice of claim requirement.
Standard rule applies in RI.
For infants (18th birthday), incompetents, and insane persons, SOL applies after disability removed. Does not apply in wrongful death cases. Medical malpractice and legal malpractice cases must be brought within 3 years from removal of disabilities.
Punitive damages may be awarded in torts involving malice, wantonness, or willfulness, false imprisonment, assault, libel, or slander.
Consumer Fraud Complaint
Rhode Island Department of Attorney General, Consumer Protection