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Missouri Personal Injury Statute Of Limitations

By Gene Hou

June 3, 2024

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    What Is The Missouri Statute Of Limitations For Personal Injury Cases?

    In Missouri, personal injury cases are subject to statutes of limitations, which are laws that set a time limit on how long you have to file a lawsuit after an accident or injury occurs. These time limits vary depending on the type of claim and can range from two to five years.

    For example, if you were injured in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence, you generally have five years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for your injuries. However, if the injury resulted in death, there may be exceptions that could extend or shorten this time frame.

    It is crucial to understand these deadlines as failing to file within the specified limitation period can result in your claim being barred by law. Consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney will ensure that you meet all necessary deadlines and take appropriate legal action within the required timeframe.


    Why the Statute of Limitations is Crucial in Personal Injury Cases

    In personal injury cases, knowing about the statute of limitations is essential. The statute of limitations sets a time limit for initiating legal action and applies to both plaintiffs and defendants. In Missouri, as in other states, specific statutes of limitations apply to personal injury cases.

    Importance of the Statute of Limitations:

    • Preserving Evidence: Over time, evidence can deteriorate or become lost. By imposing a time limit on filing lawsuits, the statute of limitations helps ensure that evidence remains intact and readily available for examination.
    • Encouraging Prompt Action: Personal injury victims may hesitate to pursue legal action due to various reasons such as fear or uncertainty about their rights. However, by setting a deadline for filing claims, the statute of limitations encourages individuals to take prompt action and seek justice.
    • Protecting Defendants’ Rights: Defendants have an interest in resolving legal disputes within a reasonable timeframe. The statute of limitations prevents potential defendants from being subjected to indefinite liability for past actions.
    • Promoting Efficiency in Legal Proceedings: Timely initiation of lawsuits allows courts to efficiently manage their caseloads and ensures that cases are resolved promptly.

     Impact on Personal Injury Cases:

    • Varying Time Limits by State and Type of Claim: Each state has its own set statutes governing personal injury cases with varying time limits depending on factors such as negligence claims or wrongful death suits.
    • Potential Losses if Deadline is Missed: If you fail to file your claim within the specified timeframe outlined by Missouri’s statute of limitations for personal injury cases, you may lose your right to seek compensation altogether.
    • Limited Exceptions Exist: While there may be exceptions or extensions under certain circumstances (such as discovery rule), they are typically limited and require specific conditions to be met; consulting with an experienced attorney is crucial.
    • Importance Of Accurate Calculation: Calculating the statute correctly is essential, errors can result in missed deadlines. Seeking advice from a knowledgeable attorney will help ensure compliance with the appropriate timeline.


    Understanding Missouri’s Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases

    When it comes to personal injury cases, knowing the statutes of limitations is crucial. These laws dictate the time frame within which you can file a lawsuit after an accident or injury occurs. In Missouri, just like in many other states, there are specific laws that govern these statutes.

    Time Limit:

    • In Missouri, the general rule is that you have five years from the date of the accident or injury to file a personal injury lawsuit.
    • If you fail to take legal action within this timeframe, your claim may be barred forever.

    When Does the Clock Start?

    • It’s important to understand when exactly the clock starts ticking in your case.
    • Generally, in personal injury cases, the clock starts running from the date when you were injured or became aware of your injuries.
    • However, there can be exceptions and complexities depending on various factors such as medical malpractice claims or injuries caused by exposure to toxic substances.

    Exceptions and Special Circumstances:

    • There are certain situations where exceptions apply and can extend or pause the statute of limitations period.
    • Examples include:
      • Minors: If an injured person is under 18 years old at the time of their accident or injury, they may have additional time beyond their 18th birthday to file a claim.
      • Mental Incapacity: If someone suffers from mental incapacity at any point during their potential claim period, they may have additional time once they regain capacity.
      • Fraudulent Concealment: If someone intentionally conceals information related to their negligence causing harm until after the expiration of normal limitation periods.

    Importance of Acting Promptly:

    • It cannot be stressed enough how crucial it is to act promptly when pursuing a personal injury claim in Missouri.
    • Failing to file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations can result in your claim being dismissed by the court. 

    Understanding the Exceptions

    In personal injury cases, there are specific situations where the deadline for filing a claim may be extended or paused. These exceptions exist to ensure that individuals with valid claims are not unfairly prevented from seeking compensation due to circumstances beyond their control. It is crucial to grasp these exceptions and how they may apply in your particular case.

    Discovery Rule:

    In some instances, the countdown on the statute of limitations does not begin until the injured party discovers or reasonably should have discovered their injury. This rule applies when injuries are not immediately apparent or when they develop over time. For example, if you were exposed to toxic chemicals at work and developed a related illness years later, the statute of limitations would likely start when you became aware of your condition.


    If a person is under 18 years old at the time of an accident that caused their injury, Missouri law allows them additional time to file a claim once they reach adulthood. The statute of limitations will typically begin running on their 18th birthday, and they will have five years from that date to bring a lawsuit.

    Mental Incapacity:

    If an individual is mentally incapacitated at the time of an accident, such as being in a coma or suffering from severe cognitive impairment, Missouri law recognizes this as grounds for pausing the statute of limitations until they regain capacity.

    Fraudulent Concealment:

    If someone intentionally conceals information about an event causing injury with fraudulent intent, it can pause the running of the statute of limitations until such concealment is discovered by reasonable means.

    Government Entities:

    When filing a personal injury claim against a government entity in Missouri, different rules apply compared to claims against private individuals or entities. Generally speaking, you must provide notice within 90 days after sustaining your injuries before filing suit against any governmental body.

    It’s important to note that these exceptions are not exhaustive, and there may be other circumstances where the deadline for filing can be extended or paused. Consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney is crucial for understanding how these exceptions apply to your specific case.

    By being aware of these exceptions, you can ensure that you do not miss out on seeking compensation for your injuries. Remember – acting promptly and consulting with knowledgeable attorneys who can guide you through this legal process is essential!


    Consequences of Missing the Deadline:

    • Loss of Legal Rights: If you fail to file a personal injury lawsuit within the specified time limit, you will lose your right to seek compensation for your injuries. The court will likely dismiss your case, leaving you without any legal recourse.
    • Inability to Recover Damages: Personal injury lawsuits are designed to help victims recover damages for their losses, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. However, if you miss the statute of limitations deadline in Missouri, you will be unable to pursue these damages through a lawsuit.
    • Preservation of Evidence: Acting promptly allows for better preservation of evidence related to your case. Over time, witnesses may forget important details or move away; physical evidence may deteriorate or get lost; and documents may become harder to obtain. By filing within the statute of limitations period in Missouri, you increase your chances of gathering strong evidence in support of your claim.
    • Weakening Your Case: Delaying legal action can weaken your case in several ways:
      • Memories fade: Witnesses’ recollections may become less reliable as time goes on.
      • Credibility concerns: Insurance companies and defense attorneys often argue that delayed claims lack credibility or were not caused by the incident in question.
      • Difficulty proving causation: As time passes after an accident or injury occurs, it becomes more challenging to establish a clear link between the incident and resulting harm.
    • Potential Exceptions May Not Apply: While there are exceptions that could extend or pause Missouri’s statute of limitations under certain circumstances (such as when injuries aren’t immediately apparent), relying on these exceptions is risky. It is always best to file within the standard time limit to avoid potential complications.
    • Peace of Mind: Taking prompt action and filing your personal injury claim within the statute of limitations provides peace of mind. You can rest assured that you have done everything necessary to protect your legal rights and seek the compensation you deserve.

    In conclusion, missing the deadline set by Missouri’s statute of limitations for personal injury cases can have severe consequences. By acting promptly, you preserve your right to pursue compensation, strengthen your case with timely evidence, and increase your chances of a successful outcome. Seeking legal advice as soon as possible after an accident or injury is crucial in navigating these complex matters effectively.

    Why Legal Help is Crucial

    In personal injury cases, seeking legal help is absolutely crucial. Navigating the complexities of the statute of limitations can be challenging, and having an experienced lawyer by your side can make all the difference in ensuring that you meet all necessary deadlines and requirements.

    Some reasons are:

    • Expertise: Personal injury lawyers specialize in this area of law and have a deep understanding of the statutes and regulations surrounding these cases. They have extensive knowledge about how the statute of limitations applies to different types of injuries and accidents.
    • Timely Action: A lawyer will ensure that you take prompt action within the specified time limit set by Missouri’s statute of limitations for personal injury cases. They will guide you through each step, from gathering evidence to filing a lawsuit if necessary.
    • Case Evaluation: An attorney will evaluate your case thoroughly to determine its strength and potential for success. They will assess factors such as liability, damages, causation, and any exceptions or extensions that may apply to your situation.
    • Negotiation Skills: If negotiations with insurance companies or responsible parties become necessary, a skilled lawyer can advocate on your behalf to secure fair compensation for your injuries or losses.
    • Court Representation: In situations where settlement negotiations fail, having a lawyer who is well-versed in litigation can provide strong representation in court proceedings. They know how to present evidence effectively and argue persuasively on your behalf.
    • Maximizing Compensation: Personal injury attorneys understand how various factors impact compensation amounts in personal injury cases. They work diligently to ensure that you receive full and fair compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain, suffering, and other damages resulting from the accident or incident.
    • Peace of Mind: Dealing with a personal injury claim can be overwhelming while trying to recover physically and emotionally from an accident or injury. Hiring a lawyer allows you to focus on your recovery while they handle the legal aspects of your case.

    Remember, time is of the essence when it comes to personal injury cases in Missouri. The sooner you seek legal help, the better chance you have of building a strong case and meeting all necessary deadlines. If someone has been injured due to another party’s negligence, don’t hesitate to contact our experienced personal injury attorneys who can guide you through the process and protect your rights.

    Gene Hou

    Gene S. Hou is an experienced and accomplished trial lawyer specializing in Personal Injury Litigation. Mr. Hou has devoted his entire legal career to handling injury cases, both for the prosecution and the defense. Having won numerous jury trials, Mr. Hou feels comfortable and confident when representing his clients in the courtroom.

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