The Missouri statute of limitations determines how long a plaintiff has to file a civil claim. In personal injury claims, the statute of limitations in Missouri is generally longer than other states at five years. The five-year countdown typically begins the date of the accident. However, there are certain exceptions.
Missouri Revised Statute §516.140 states that there is a five-year limitation on any actions for any "injury to the person or rights of another, not arising on contract," and not otherwise mentioned in the states' statutes.
Meaning, that in order to file a lawsuit for injuries sustained in a car accident, slip and fall, product liability claim, or any other case or any other type of negligence, you have five years from the date the negligence occurred to file an initial complaint in court. If you miss this deadline and try to file anyway, the defendant can file a "motion to dismiss," which will be granted in most cases.
While the statute of limitations applies to court filings, filing a claim with an insurance company quickly after your injury is still vital. If the deadline is approaching or has already past, your ability to negotiate for more money will be greatly diminished, as the other side will not have the threat of an expensive and lengthy trial hanging over their heads.
Exceptions to the Five-Year Statute of Limitations in Missouri
Missouri law does provide for several exceptions to the five-year limit:
Missouri Revised Statute §516.105 stipulates its own set of rules for making claims against healthcare providers. Generally, medical malpractice claims must be filed within two years of the date the negligence occurred, with the following exceptions:
- If the claim is centered around a foreign object being left inside of you, you have two years from the date you discovered the object was still there, or from the date you should have discovered it through the "exercise of ordinary care." For example, say two months after surgery you experience abdominal pains, go to the emergency room and they recommend you get an x-ray. If you get the x-ray and discover the object, you have two years from that day to file a claim. If you do not get the x-ray, you still have two years from that date because you should have gotten the x-ray and discovered the object.
- If the claim is based on a failure to inform of medical test results, you have two years from the date you either discovered or should have discovered the negligent failure to inform. You cannot make a claim for failure to inform of test results if the test was done negligently or the results were erroneous.
- If you were a minor at the time the negligence occurred, you have until your 20th birthday.
In no cases can you make a medical malpractice claim after 10 years of the alleged neglect or after your 20th birthday, whichever is later.
Other Exceptions to the Missouri Statute of Limitations in Personal Injury Claims
There are four other important exceptions to the Missouri statute of limitations:
- Missouri Revised Statute §516.170 — If you were under the age of 21 or were "mentally incapacitated" at the time the negligence occurred, you have five years from the date of your 21st birthday or the date the disability was removed.
- Missouri Revised Statute §516.200 — If the person you are making a claim against leaves the state of Missouri after the negligence occurred, their time out of state does not count against the five years.
- Missouri Revised Statute §537.100 — Wrongful death claims can be brought within three years of your loved one's death.
- Claims Against the State Government — Any claim against a government entity in Missouri must be filed within 90 days of the accident with the Missouri Office of Administration's Risk Management Division.
If you are afraid that the statute of limitations for your claim may have passed, you should still talk to an attorney to see if any of the exceptions apply to you.