Missouri Car Accident Statute of Limitations
The Missouri statute of limitations for car accidents is 5 years, meaning Missouri residents have 5 years from the day of their car accident to bring a car accident lawsuit (RSMo. §516.120). This law applies to anyone involved in the accident, not just the driver, meaning passengers, pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, etc. are also subject to the 5-year deadline. However, a proposed bill in the Missouri Senate could shorten the statute of limitations to 2 years if passed. This is why it’s extremely important to contact an attorney as soon as possible after your accident.
The rationale behind the Missouri car accident Statute of Limitations is to give anyone involved in the car accident sufficient time to receive medical treatment, to recover from the accident, and to give your attorney sufficient time to perform legal research and decide if a lawsuit is even worth pursuing.
You don’t want to be forced into filing a lawsuit before you’re ready. Some bodily injuries may not be apparent immediately following the accident and could take months to show up. On the other hand, some injuries may be so severe and life-altering that it could take years of treatment to recover or years of conservative treatment just to come to the conclusion that the injuries and pain are permanent in nature or require surgical intervention. With the deadline currently set at 5 years, this allows any injured party the time to discover all injuries caused by the accident, to fully understand the severity of those injuries, and to account for medical bills.
Exceptions to the Missouri Car Accident Statute of Limitations
If you are bringing a wrongful death claim on behalf of a family member who died in the accident or died as a result of their injuries from the accident, you only have 3 years from the day of their death to bring a lawsuit (even if you are claiming that they died as a result of the car accident, which may have occurred on a different day) .
The legal process of a wrongful death case can be significantly different from a car accident claim, including laws regarding the Missouri Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations. An experienced car accident attorney can help determine laws that are applicable to your case, file a strong claim, and help you receive compensation for damages.
What Happens If You Miss the Statute of Limitations Deadline?
If you do not file your lawsuit within the 5-year deadline provided by the Missouri statute of limitations for personal injuries, you will not be able to pursue a car accident case, although there are exceptions in rare occasions. In only very rare cases will a court even entertain hearing a car accident case filed after the time limit. Again, this is why contacting an attorney as soon as reasonably possible is crucial if you’re even considering the possibility of filing a lawsuit.
After evaluating the facts of your case, performing legal research, and understanding the nature of your injuries, the attorney assisting you can help you make an informed decision regarding when to file a lawsuit. The attorney may advise that the nature of your auto accident claim warrants filing right away, or they may find it more beneficial to try to negotiate with the negligent driver’s insurance company to reach an out-of-court settlement.
In a majority of car accident cases, attorneys will attempt to negotiate with the negligent driver’s attorney or insurance company first and only resort to filing a lawsuit if a reasonable settlement offer cannot be agreed upon after back-and-forth negotiations. This is especially true if you are very far out from the statute of limitations deadline. If the statute of limitation deadline is coming soon, a personal injury law firm may advise that filing right away is the right move to prevent missing your chance to file.