What If You Miss the Filing Deadline for a Personal Injury Claim in Missouri?

Every state has deadlines on bringing personal injury claims. The laws that enact these deadlines are called statutes of limitations. It is critical to know and obey your deadline for filing a personal injury lawsuit in Missouri. Otherwise, your case may not stand, and the defendant’s attorney will most likely file a motion to dismiss.

What Is the Filing Deadline for a Personal Injury Claim in Missouri?

According to the Revised Statutes of Missouri (RSMo) Section 516.120, all personal injury actions must be brought within five years from the date of injury. This Missouri Statute states that all claimants – with only a few exceptions – have five years from the date of the underlying accident and injury to file a formal complaint. This deadline applies whether the case is brought on the basis of negligence or an intentional tort.

Different types of civil claims come with different deadlines. If you wish to bring a lawsuit for the wrongful death of a loved one, for example, the statute of limitations in Missouri is three years from the date of death. If the defendant(s) in your case is a government entity, you only have 90 days from the date of injury to file a formal complaint against the state or city.

Can I Still File a Claim After the Statute of Limitations Has Passed?

For the most part, if you try to file a claim after the statute of limitations has passed, it will not proceed to the next step. The civil courthouse where you file your paperwork will refuse to hear the cause of action due to the missed deadline. Even if the courts accept your case, expect the defendant(s) to file a motion to dismiss the case since the statute of limitations has passed.

A motion to dismiss is a legal request that can be filed by either side of a personal injury lawsuit at any time during legal proceedings in an attempt to have the courts dismiss the case. It is most commonly filed by a defendant at the start of a lawsuit. There can be many reasons for a motion to dismiss, including administrative errors such as a missed statute of limitations. If the court grants the motion to dismiss, it rules the complaint legally invalid – effectively ending the claim.

Are There Exceptions to the Five-Year Statute of Limitations?

The majority of personal injury claims in Missouri must be filed within at least five years of the date of the injury. Waiting too long will bar you from financial recovery, even if you had valid grounds for a lawsuit. There are, however, some exceptions to the five-year statute of limitations. If an exception applies to your case, it can toll – or extend – the deadline, giving you more time to file. Three of these exceptions are:

  1. The discovery rule. Not all injuries are immediately apparent. If you do not discover your injury or illness right away, you will have five years from the date you discovered or reasonably should have discovered your injury through due diligence to file.
  2. Legal disability. RSMo Section 516.170 states that an injured person under 21 years of age or who is mentally incapacitated has five years to bring the case once the period of “legal disability” is over.
  3. Out-of-state defendant. According to RSMo Section 516.200, there is an extension if the defendant travels to a different state. In most cases, the period of absence will not count toward Missouri’s five-year statute of limitations.

It is important to contact a personal injury lawyer in Missouri as soon as possible after an auto accident or injury you believe was caused by someone else’s careless or wrongful acts. Consulting with personal injury attorneys right away can ensure that you bring your claim by the state’s deadline. A Kansas City lawyer can explain your statute of limitations, make case filing more efficient and guide you through the rest of the legal process for optimal results.