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How long do I have to file a personal injury lawsuit? Are there Exceptions?

If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, it’s important to act quickly to protect your legal rights. In Missouri, there are specific time limits, known as statutes of limitations, for filing a personal injury claim. This article will explain how long you have to file a personal injury claim in Missouri, in addition to a few of the many exceptions to these time limits.

What is a Personal Injury Claim?

A personal injury claim is a legal claim that arises when someone is injured due to the negligence or intentional actions of another person. Personal injury claims can be filed for a wide range of injuries, from minor cuts and bruises to serious injuries like broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and spinal cord injuries.

In a personal injury claim, the injured person (known as the plaintiff) seeks compensation from the person or company responsible for their injuries (known as the defendant). Compensation can include damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims in Missouri

In Missouri, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims arising from the negligence of another person/entity is typically five years from the date of the injury. This means that if you have been injured, you have five years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit against the responsible party (or else your claim may be barred forever).

However, it’s important to note that there are many exceptions to this general time limit. For example, if the injured person is a minor at the time of the injury, the statute of limitations may be tolled/extended until the minor reaches 18 years of age.

If the injury is caused by an intentional act of another party, the statute of limitations will likely be shortened to two years. If the injury is caused by the negligence of a medical provider such as a hospital or physician, the statute of limitations will also be shortened to two years.  Further, if the negligent act results in the death of a loved one (but is not a medical malpractice claim), Missouri provides a three-year statute of limitations.

Another exception is if the injured person was not immediately aware of their injury (and has a reasonable basis for not being aware). For example, if someone is exposed to toxic chemicals and later develops cancer as a result, the statute of limitations may not begin until the date of the cancer diagnosis, rather than the date of the exposure.

It’s also worth noting that there may be certain notice requirements required to preserve your claim against municipalities and certain government entities.

Why it’s Important to Act Quickly

Even though you may have up to five years to file a personal injury claim in Missouri, it’s important to act quickly to protect your legal rights. There are several reasons for this.

First, the longer you wait to file a claim, the harder it may be to gather evidence and build a strong case. Witnesses may forget important details, and physical evidence may be lost or destroyed.

Second, the sooner you file a claim, the sooner you can begin the process of recovering compensation for your injuries. Medical bills can pile up quickly, and lost wages can make it difficult to make ends meet.

Third, if you wait too long to file a claim, you may miss the deadline and lose your right to pursue compensation altogether. As discussed above, there are specific timelines to file your case depending on the specific facts of your case. With many varying deadlines, and many exceptions to each, it’s best to contact an experienced attorney ASAP.

How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

If you have been injured in an accident, it’s a good idea to consult with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can help you navigate the legal process, gather evidence, build a strong case on your behalf, and ensure no filing deadlines are missed.

The AW Smith Law Firm has decades of experience investigating, litigating and winning cases, where our clients and their families have suffered a serious injury or wrongful death by the thoughtless or negligent acts of another. Our personal injury attorneys handle and win cases throughout the state of Missouri.

AW Smith Law prides itself on delivering a very high level of personal client care. All of your phone calls will be answered and returned. No decisions will be made about your case without your extensive involvement and understanding. AW Smith Law is regarded as the best personal injury law firm in mid-Missouri.
Call today to schedule your no-cost case evaluation.