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Missouri Statute of Limitations For Personal Injury

In Missouri, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim is 5 years (Missouri Code section 516.120). This means that claims must be filed within 5 years of discovering the injury. Individuals who do not file a claim within the 5 year time limit are unlikely to be eligible for a settlement or have their case tried in court.

A statute of limitation exists for both civil and criminal causes of actions. In the civil setting, a statute of limitation begins to run from the date of injury, or the date that the injury could reasonably be discovered (such as in the case of some malpractice claims). The statute of limitations exists to preserve the integrity of evidence and testimonials, which can decay in credibility overtime due to the contamination or loss of evidence and the tendency of individuals to misremember events after a prolonged period of time. Most statutes of limitations are codified in statutory law, though some are found in common law. In Missouri, personal injury statutes of limitations are codified in the Missouri Revisor of Statutes. The purpose of a statute of limitations is to provide potential plaintiffs a clear picture of when they must assert their claims, and to alleviate responsibility to potential defendants for actions or omissions that occur beyond the prescribed period.

The statute of limitation is dependent on where the injury occurred, what kind of claim you are bringing, and what kind of party you are bringing the claim against under Missouri Law.

About Missouri’s Statute of Limitations

The personal injury statute of limitations in Missouri refers to time restrictions imposed for filing a civil lawsuit with a personal injury claim. A statute of limitations also exists at a state level for criminal charges.

For civil actions like personal injury and negligence claims, there is always a governing statute of limitations for each state. Depending on the type of injury and liable party, the state of limitations may vary for different case types such as those that involve wrongful death, claims of medical malpractice, or workers’ compensation. The Missouri personal injury statute of limitations states that an individual has 5 years from the date an injury was discovered to pursue legal action.

Personal injury lawsuits are defined as an injury due to the negligence or intentional wrongdoing of another party, and lawsuits may be filed in Missouri’s civil court system.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to someone else’s negligence or intentional wrongdoing, a personal injury lawyer can help you file a claim to recover compensation for damages such as medical bills and lost wages. In Missouri, personal injury claims may include car accidents, defective products, medical malpractice, or premises liability cases. For questions regarding the statute of limitations or Missouri personal injury lawsuits, contact a personal injury attorney for help.

Deadline Extensions & Exceptions to the Missouri State of Limitations

In some cases, there may be exceptions to deadlines and exceptions to Missouri’s personal injury statute of limitations.

Deadline Extensions

  • Discovery Rule: In some personal injury cases, the injured party is unaware of their injuries, and the Discovery Rule allows for the statute of limitations to begin when the individual became aware of the injury or should have become aware of the injury.
  • Defendant leaves the state: If at any time the defendant leaves the state, the statute of limitations deadline would not include the duration of time for which the defendant left the state.

Exceptions

  • Minors & mentally incapacitated: If the injured person under the age of 21 or determined to be mentally incapacitated, they will have 5 years to file a personal injury claim starting after turning 21 or being declared mentally competent (see section 516.170).
  • Government agencies & employees: For personal injury claims filed against government agencies or employees, Missouri requires that claims are filed with the Office of Administration’s Risk Management Division and within 90 days of discovering the injury.

Additional Considerations for Missouri Statute of Limitations

Negligence claims – The statute of limitation for negligence claims in Missouri is 5 years from the date of injury, meaning, if someone causes a car wreck that results in an injury to your person, you have five years to file a complaint (also known as a petition) in the Missouri courts. That does not mean that the case must be completed, verdict or settlement and all, before the end of five years. Generally, negligence claims in Missouri include injuries resulting from motor vehicle collisions; injuries from slip, trips, and falls from dangerous conditions on another’s property; injuries from dog bites; and most other injuries caused by an act or omission from a person or business. Missouri’s personal injury statutes of limitations for auto accidents follow that of negligence claims:

Wrongful death claims – The statute of limitation for wrongful death in Missouri is 3 years. In that same scenario, if the crash resulted in the death of the injured party, then the injured party’s family has a right to a wrongful death claim against the defendant. This is a different type of claim than a negligence claim in that it is a claim that belongs to the deceased’s survivors who step in, not to the injured party. Note, however, that if someone is injured as a result of another’s negligence, then subsequently dies from unrelated causes, their statute of limitations remains five years, but they must have an estate filed within one year of the date of their death to pursue their negligence claim. The settlement from the negligence claim becomes property of the decedent’s estate.

Minors – Because a minor plaintiff cannot negotiate or agree to a settlement on their own behalf, they have an extended statute of limitation, which is five years following their 21st birthday. When cases are resolved when the injured plaintiff is still a minor, the parties will often need to seek court approval of the settlement amount in the form of a friendly suit called a minor settlement hearing. In 2021, the Missouri legislature passed a bill that allowed minor settlements that are under $35,000 to bypass the minor settlement hearing so long as the net proceeds of the settlement are deposited into a restricted account for the benefit of the minor that they can access upon their 18th birthday. The parent or guardian of the minor must complete an affidavit verifying that they are putting the money in the account and believe that the settlement amount fully compensates the minor.

Dram Shop Claim – A Missouri dram shop claim is 5 years under a negligence claim or three years for a wrongful death claim. Generally, the Missouri dram shop law provides that any commercial establishment that is licensed to sell intoxicating liquor to be consumed on the premises may be liable for injuries caused by a person whom they over served who was “visibly intoxicated” while being served.

Product liability claim – In Missouri, the statute of limitations for product liability claims is 5 years. Product liability is the legal liability of a manufacturer or trader that they incur for producing or selling a faulty product. The product liability can be based on defective design (products inherently dangerous or missing safeguards), hidden defects, failure to warn, malfunctions, or defective processes. Examples of some of the largest product liability cases include the Phillip Morris tobacco products case (failure to warn), General Motors for gas tank explosions, Dow Corning Silicone Breast Implants (defective product), and asbestos building materials.

Medical malpractice claim – The Missouri statute of limitations for medical malpractice is 2 years. Medical malpractice is a specific subset of tort law that deals with professional negligence and is defined as any act or omission by a physician during treatment of a patient that deviates from accepted norms of practice in the medical community and causes an injury to the patient.

Workers’ Compensation – In Missouri, the statute of limitations for workers’ compensation claims is 2 years. The workers’ comp statute applies to individuals who have suffered injuries while on the job, and deadlines can be extended for a number of reasons depending on the circumstances of how the claim was (or was not) reported.

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