If you’ve been injured in an auto or personal injury accident, you may need to pursue compensation to cover for medical bills or lost wages if you were unable to return from work. You may not realize that you have an injury until weeks or months after the accident occurred. Delayed discovery can cause panic and angst, as you may think you’ve missed your window to pursue legal action.
However, the Missouri statute of limitations for auto accidents and personal injury is longer than you might think.
Keep reading to determine if you may be eligible to take legal action for the injury you sustained due to no fault of your own.
Missouri Statute of Limitations
The Missouri statute of limitations for personal injury and auto accidents is one of the longest in the country. As of 2018, Missouri was one of seven states that still had a statute of limitations longer than three years for personal and auto accident injury. While lawmakers have attempted to shorten the time limit, it remains at five years. Unlike the workers’ compensation statute of limitations, plaintiffs of personal or auto accident injury cases have substantially more time to file their claim.
While you may have several years to file a claim for your personal or auto accident injury, it is essential to remember that prompt action usually works in favor of the plaintiff.
Why Do the Statutes of Limitations Exist?
Statutes of limitations exist to preserve evidence and witnesses as much as possible. As time passes, our memories of specific events can fade. Witnesses can have a fuzzy memory of the event that caused an injury. Degrading memory can lead to problems when trying to decide who is at fault in a personal or auto accident injury case.
The statute of limitations is put in place to increase court systems’ efficiency and to try claims as fairly as possible.
Missouri Car Accident Statute of Limitations
The Missouri auto accident injury statute of limitations is five years within the time of the accident. If your loved one died in a car accident, you have three years to file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault driver.
Remember, this is the statute of limitations for filing a civil claim. This article explains that the statute of limitations may not apply to your claim with your car insurance or an uninsured motorist insurance claim. Most insurance policies ask that you give notice to the insurance provider of the at-fault driver “promptly.” Insurance companies use this word vaguely to imply you should report the accident within days or weeks of its occurrence.
Checking in with your insurance agent or viewing your policy can help you determine a fair amount of time to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance. The bottom line, file your claim as quickly as possible. Giving yourself plenty of time is always the best option.
A prompt filing of your case can preserve your evidence and give you more leverage in a settlement negotiation. A skilled auto accident personal injury lawyer can help you navigate this process.
Missouri Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
When it comes to personal injury, the number of years remains the same at five. The time to file a case begins at the date of the accident. The only exceptions to this rule are:
- If you were under 21 at the time of the injury, you have a full five years to file a personal injury lawsuit after you turn 21.
- If you are considered “mentally incapacitated” after the injury, you have a full five years to file a suit after being deemed “mentally competent.”
- If the defendant leaves the state, their time away may not be considered a part of the five-year window.
The Importance of Consulting with a Lawyer After an Accident
It’s critical to get legal help as soon as you can to get the case moving forward. As time passes, people forget details of the incident, and evidence may not appear as airtight as it was at the beginning of the case. While five years is a significant amount of time, if you miss your window, the defendant will most likely file a motion to dismiss your case.
If you’ve been injured in an auto, slip-and-fall, property or another form of accident, consulting with an experienced lawyer can help you succeed in getting the compensation you deserve.