Navigating the legal terrain of personal injury cases can be challenging, especially when it comes to understanding the statutes of limitations. This article will help you understand the time limits for filing a personal injury claim in Missouri.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations is a law that sets the maximum period within which legal proceedings may be initiated. After this period has passed, the claim is usually barred, with some exceptions.
Personal Injury Statutes of Limitations in Missouri
In Missouri, the statute of limitations for most personal injury cases is five years. This includes claims related to car accidents, slip and fall incidents, and other instances of negligence.
It's essential to understand that this five-year period begins from the date of the injury, not from the date you discovered the injury or its effects. If a lawsuit isn't filed within that period, you will likely lose your right to bring your case to court.
Exceptions to the Rule
Like most rules, there are exceptions to the statute of limitations in Missouri. For instance:
- In medical malpractice cases, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the alleged act of negligence. However, the law allows for a "discovery rule" exception, which means the clock doesn't start ticking until the patient discovers, or reasonably should have discovered, the injury.
- If the injured party is a minor, the clock doesn't start ticking until they turn 18. However, in medical malpractice cases, the statute of limitations begins to run when a minor turns 20.
- If the injury was caused by a government entity, different timelines and procedures apply.
- If the defendant leaves the state of Missouri after causing the injury but before a lawsuit can be filed, the time of their absence usually doesn't count towards the statute of limitations.
Why the Statute of Limitations Is Important
The statute of limitations is crucial because if you fail to file a lawsuit within the specified time limit, you'll likely lose your right to compensation for your injuries.
Given the complexity of these laws, it's important to consult with a seasoned Missouri personal injury lawyer who can ensure that your case is handled within the prescribed time limits.
In conclusion, understanding the statutes of limitations in personal injury cases in Missouri is critical to safeguarding your rights and ensuring you can pursue the compensation you deserve.