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Many clients often hesitate to contact an attorney after they’ve been injured. But a new Missouri Court of Appeals decision underscores the importance of having an attorney look at your case as soon as possible. A plaintiff who waited nearly 5 years to file her negligence suit waited too long, says the Southern District Court of Appeals in a new opinion.

The plaintiff, a Camden County woman, was being treated at a medical clinic. As she leaned against an examination table, the table slid forward, unexpectedly. Clinic staff had neglected to lock the wheels. The plaintiff lost her balance and fell violently, fracturing her hip. She sued the clinic on a basic negligence claim.

Normally, suits involving medical treatment are considered medical malpractice claims and carry 2-year deadlines (known as statutes of limitation), within which plaintiffs must file suit. Negligence outside the medical treatment context normally has a 5-year filing deadline. In filing a general negligence suit against the clinic, the plaintiff was trying to avoid the harsh 2-year deadline.

However, the Court of Appeals held that even though the case resembled common “slip and fall” cases, the crux of the suit was negligence in the context of receiving medical treatment – the plaintiff had simply waited too long to file suit.

This new Court of Appeals decision is a cautionary tale. The moral of the story is this: if you or your family get injured in an accident of any kind, it’s vitally important for you or for them to get in touch with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

This is important to preserve evidence and information, but it’s also extremely important so that deadlines aren’t missed. Time flies. Don’t wait until it’s too late. You can read the opinion here.

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