What is the Statute of Limitations for a Minor in Missouri?

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BY
Colton Newlin, Attorney

In Missouri, a person is legally considered a minor if they are under 18 years of age. If a minor has an injury claim, the statute of limitations on the claim does not begin until the day the minor turns 21 years of age at which point they have 5 years to file a claim. Thus, a minor with a personal injury claim could wait up to age 26 before filing a claim.

However, there are additional legal considerations and exceptions to Missouri’s Statute of Limitations, especially as it applies to minors.

About the Deadline to File an Injury Claim for Minors

Generally, under Missouri statute, claims for personal injury must be filed within five (5) years of the date of injury, or five (5) years from the date the injury was first discovered. Thus, a minor with a personal injury claim could wait up to age twenty-six (26) before filing their claim (see Missouri Code section 516.120). However, this is not true for all types of lawsuits that may arise, and it is important to know the exceptions to the general rule.

Additional Legal Considerations for Filing an Injury Claim as a Minor

  • The Legal Definition of a Minor: A minor, as defined by Missouri statute, is any person who has not attained the age of eighteen (18) years or any person in the custody of the children’s division who has not attained the age of twenty-one (21). [Missouri Code section 453.015].
  • The Legal Definition of a Statute of Limitation: A statute of limitation is a law that prescribes a set period of time that a claimant may bring a cause of action against a wrongdoer. In other words, it’s the time limit to file a lawsuit; and, if you miss the deadline, you can’t file a lawsuit.

The Statutory Tolling Period for a Minor

When a potential claimant is a minor, that claimant has until the age of twenty-one (21) before the applicable statute of limitation begins to run (see Missouri Code section 516.170). This pause in the statute of limitation is referred to as “tolling” the statute of limitation. Tolling is a legal doctrine that allows for the pausing or delaying of the running of the period of time set forth by a statute of limitation.

Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations for Injured Minors

  • Medical Malpractice: The statute of limitations for medical malpractice in Missouri is two (2) years, meaning a patient has two (2) years from the date of injury to file a complaint with the court (see Missouri Code section 516.105). However, if the patient is under the age of eighteen (18), the two (2) year statute of limitation is tolled until the patient’s eighteenth (18th) birthday. In other words, a minor patient has until their twentieth (20th) birthday to file a medical malpractice claim.
  • Childhood Sexual Abuse: The statute of limitations for filing a civil claim against the perpetrator of childhood sexual abuse in Missouri is ten (10) years from the date the child turns twenty-one (21); or, in other words, a minor has until the age of thirty-one (31) before they are prevented from bringing a civil action for childhood sexual abuse (see Missouri Code section 537.046). However, the statute also provides that a claimant can bring an action within three (3) years from the date that the claimant discovers that their injury was caused by childhood sexual abuse. In theory, this allows a claimant of any age to bring a claim for childhood sexual abuse, provided that they discover the connection (e.g., through mental health counseling) between their injury and past trauma within three (3) years of filing suit.
  • Fleeing Defendant: If a Missouri resident, or non-resident, causes injury and flees the State of Missouri after the accident but before the injured person has the chance to file a lawsuit, under Missouri statute, the time limit to file a lawsuit pauses until that wrongdoer returns to the state (see Missouri Code 537.100).

Get Help with an Injured Minor Case from Brown & Crouppen Law Firm

The choice of a lawyer is an important one and should not be decided without careful consideration. If you or a loved one has been injured, the experienced attorneys at Brown & Crouppen can help you seek financial compensation for injuries, medical bills, and other damages. Navigating the complexities of the Missouri statute of limitations is an area in which our attorneys have great experience and confidence.

Get started today with your free case evaluation by visiting Brown & Crouppen online or by calling us at (314) 501-9510. Our St. Louis and Kansas City personal injury lawyers have helped clients recover over $1 billion in settlements in verdicts. And remember, there are no upfront costs or legal fees – we only get paid if you win.

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