What is the Missouri Statute of Limitations Personal Injury?
How long do you have to file a lawsuit?
What should you know?
In this article, we will break down the legal concept of the Missouri Statute of Limitations Personal Injury so you know all there is to know about it!
Keep reading as we have gathered exactly the information that you need!
Let’s dig into our statute of limitations laws!
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Missouri Statute of Limitations Personal Injury
What does “statute of limitations” mean?
What should you know about the Missouri personal injury laws as it relates to the statute of limitations?
Why does it matter?
A person suffering damages due to the negligence, carelessness, acts, or omissions of another can file a lawsuit to get compensation for their losses.
This law segment is known as tort law or torts representing civil claims intended to get financial compensation and relief.
However, a person suffering damages cannot wait eternally before filing his or her lawsuit.
In most cases, there is a “time limit” or “deadline” for the person to file legal action against the person responsible for causing the damages.
In this context, any person suffering personal injuries or bodily damages must be familiar with the applicable laws to ensure that a lawsuit or a claim is filed within the legally mandated deadlines (also known as the statute of limitations).
Otherwise, the person’s recourse may be time-barred and no longer permissible in law.
There are different ways a person may suffer damages, such as:
- Car accident or auto accident
- Motor vehicle accident
- Motorcycle accident
- Truck accident
- Wrongful death
- Bike accident
- Pedestrian accident
- Nursing home abuse
- Construction accidents
- Gross negligence
- Willful misconduct
- Dog bite
- Assault and battery
- Catastrophic injury
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Burn injury
The list can go on and on.
We have put together this article to guide you on the various aspects of the Missouri laws you should be aware of to make better and more informed decisions about filing an insurance claim or filing a lawsuit.
This article is by no means a legal opinion or legal advice but intended to give you an overall and general picture of the Missouri rules and regulations.
For any legal advice or to answer any specific legal matters involving your case or an actual personal injury matter you are faced with, you should contact a personal injury lawyer (also known as trial lawyers) for guidance.
The content of this article should be taken as a rough guide or high-level map to bring you awareness but you are responsible for ensuring you verify the specifics of your case and the applicable deadlines relevant to your specific case.
The laws continually change, and we strive to keep your content up to date.
Again, don’t rely strictly on this article to make decisions but make sure you do further due diligence on your case with the right legal advisors and counselors.
With that “disclaimer” being said, let’s dive right in.
Standard statute of limitations personal injury
Legally speaking, when a person suffers damages or injuries, the law will set out a certain timeline within which the person must file a legal action or lawsuit against the party at fault.
That’s referred to as the statute of limitations.
Like all other states, Missouri has statutes of limitations governing the deadlines within which a person must file a lawsuit in a civil court for personal injury.
The general statute of limitations for personal injury in Missouri requires that you file a personal injury lawsuit within five years from the date of the accident or injury.
The Missouri personal injury statute of limitations is outlied in the Missouri Code Section 516.120.
However, you must keep in mind that different laws may impose other deadlines for filing a lawsuit depending on the nature of the injury or accident.
For example, in Missouri, there is an exception to this rule called the Discovery Rule (Section 516.100 referring to “accured” as “the cause of action shall not be deemed to accrue when the wrong is done or the technical breach of contract or duty occurs, but when the damage resulting therefrom is sustained and is capable of ascertainment”.
Under the Discovery Rule, if the injured party discovers the injuries later or could not have been aware of the injuries, the statute of limitations clock will begin when the individual actually became aware of the injuries or as of the moment the individual should have been aware.
It’s also worth mentioning that you may suffer an injury that “appears” after the accident in some cases.
In certain cases, the statute of limitations deadline can be extended.
We’ll go over that later in this article, so be sure to keep reading.
Specific civil injury statute of limitations
Depending on the nature of the accident and the type of civil lawsuit filed, you may be confronted with different deadlines to file your civil injury action.
In Missouri, most civil actions require that you observe the standard timeline for filing a personal injury claim.
For instance, if the injury claim involves the negligence of a government agency or its employees, you must then observe the specific rules imposed by law.
In this case, the action must be filed with the Office of Administration’s Risk Management Division and the window to sue is 90 days from the moment of the injury.
To put things in perspective, here is a high-level list of some of the applicable Missouri civil injury statute of limitations:
- Car accident statute of limitations is 5 years (Missouri Code Section 516.120)
- Negligence cases have a statute of limitations of 5 years (Missouri Code Section 516.120)
- Intentional tort cases have a statute of limitations of 5 years (Missouri Code Section 516.120)
- Assault and battery statute of limitations is 5 years (Missouri Code Section 516.120)
- Injury to person is 5 years (Missouri Code Section 516.140)
- Professional malpractice is between 2 to 10 years (Missouri Code Section 516.105)
- Medical malpractice is 2 years from the moment of discovery (Missouri Code Section 516.105)
- Wrongful death is 3 years from the date of death (Missouri Code Section 537.100)
- Product liability action must be filed within 5 years after the plaintiff suffers injury (Missouri Code Section 516.120)
- Workers’ Compensation claims must be filed within 2 years after the date of injury or death
Based on the above, for instance, if you suffer injuries due to a healthcare professional’s medical fault, you must file your lawsuit and sue the defendant within two years from the day the damages were suffered.
If not, you will be barred from filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against the at-fault defendant.
Start of deadline to file lawsuit
One crucial question to ask is: when does the statute of limitations deadline start?
What constitutes the point in time where the legal clock starts ticking?
As you may have guessed, this is a crucial element for any personal injury lawsuit.
Missing deadlines can be catastrophic for a victim of an accident.
If you miss your legal deadline, your action will be considered as lapsed, expired, or time-barred.
The point in time when the statute of limitations clock starts running may depend on a few factors:
- Date the injury was suffered (accident)
- Date the victim discovered the harm or injuries (discovery)
- Events beyond the victim’s control that prevented them from taking action (tolling)
Let’s look at them quickly.
Date of accident
In most cases, the statute of limitations deadline will start as of the date of the accident.
That’s typically when the fault and the damages are suffered all at the same time.
For example, the Missouri statute of limitations car accident will start as of the day of the auto accident.
Date of discovery
In other cases, particularly in medical malpractice cases, sexual abuse, or assault cases, the harm or damages are not discovered later.
For example, the victim of a medical misdiagnosis will only realize or discover the fault another doctor will eventually property diagnose the disease or cancer.
Occupational diseases such as mesothelioma caused by asbestos is another famous example of how injuries can manifest themselves later (even decades).
That’s when the victim’s statute of limitations will run from the moment of discovery of the harm as opposed to when the doctor had initially misdiagnosed cancer.
The discovery may happen months, if not, years after the misdiagnosis (there must be a link between the underlying negligent act and the damages).
Impossibility to act
Finally, there are some cases where, in the interest of justice, a person’s timeline to sue will be tolled as they could not move forward with a lawsuit for reasons beyond their control.
An example of that is mental incapacity or lack of mental competence allowing the victim to take legal action.
The moment the victim regains the capacity or becomes able to take action, the clock will start ticking as of that time.
In our example, a victim deemed incapacitated due to temporary mental illness will be given additional time to file a lawsuit.
The statute of limitations clock will start running from the moment the person’s incapacity over.
What can affect the statute of limitations
Under the Missouri Revised Statutes, the law sets the personal injury statute of limitations at 5 years from the moment of the accident.
However, there are events, circumstances, and scenarios where the legal timeline can extend beyond five years or even get reduced.
As we mentioned in our disclaimer above, if you get into an accident or suffer damages, you must consult with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible so you know what are the legal timelines applicable to your case.
Here are some other considerations that may affect how long you may have to seek damages to compensate damages suffered due to personal injury:
- If the defendant leaves the state after injuring the victim, the statute of limitations will stop running for the period of time the defendant left the state (Missouri Revised Statutes section 516.200)
- An injured person under the age of 21 will have a full five years to sue after turning 21 (Missouri Revised Statutes Section 516.170)
- A person who is mentally incapacitated will also have full five years to sue for personal injury once the legal disability or incapacity ends (Missouri Revised Statutes Section 516.170)
Filing lawsuit after expiry of deadline
Can you file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations period has expired?
Unfortunately, if your statute of limitations delays have passed, it’s a given that your lawsuit will be dismissed right out the gate.
Although you can file a personal injury lawsuit, the court or the other party may raise the issue of the statute of limitations to immediately and summarily dismiss your case.
When your legal action is time-barred, you no longer have “legal” recourse against the defendant or at-fault party.
As a result, you will no longer be able to hold the defendant legally accountable to compensate you for the damages you suffered.
If you are looking to successfully prosecute a person causing you damages, getting a judgment or award for damages, or hoping to settle a personal injury claim, you must make sure that you act within the deadlines established by law.
Missouri Shared Fault Rule
The comparative negligence rule is when the law attempts to allocate fault proportionately to each party involved in an accident.
For instance, if a person sues another for damages, the defendant may raise the comparative negligence rule to argue that the accident victim shares some responsibility in the accident and must bear some of the costs.
For example, imagine Suzanne and Mary get into an accident where Suzanne is allocated 50% of the responsibility and Mary 50%.
If Mary’s damages amount to $10,000, this means that Suzanne would be accountable for $5,000 and Mary for $5,000.
In Missouri, the courts follow a pure comparative negligence rule where they take the victim’s total damages and reduce it by the person’s share of responsibility.
In our example, Mary will be entitled to receive a total of $5,000 instead of $10,000.
So what is the Missouri Personal Injury Statute of Limitations?
Let’s look at a summary of our findings.
Missouri Statute of Limitations Personal Injury:
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