If you were involved in a car accident because of the actions of someone else, you may have the right to recover compensation for the losses that you have suffered as a result. You might think that the time for filing a claim has passed if several years have elapsed. However, it may not be too late for you to file a lawsuit for your accident. To determine whether you still have time to pursue compensation, you’ll need to learn about the statute of limitations on car accident claims.
What Is the Statute of Limitations on Car Accident Claims?
A statute of limitations is a law that places a time limit on when lawsuits can be filed. There are many different statutes of limitations that apply to different types of legal claims. Like all other states, Missouri has established a statute of limitations for personal injury and wrongful death claims, including those that arise from car accidents.
Anyone who is injured in a car accident is given time to physically recover, determine the value of the damage to their vehicle, and figure out the extent of their injuries. While most states set a statute of limitations of two years on personal injury cases, Missouri provides a substantially longer limitations period. Under Missouri Revised Statutes § 516.120, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims due to negligence is five years. The limitations period starts to run from the date of your accident and applies to all people who were injured, including pedestrians, passengers, drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and others.
Statute of Limitations for Fatal Accidents
The statute of limitations on car accident claims also depends on whether the victim was injured or killed. While injured victims have five years to file personal injury claims after their car accidents, a claim for wrongful death must be filed within three years of the death of a person who succumbs to his or her car accident injuries under Missouri Revised Statutes § 537.100. The statute of limitations will start running from the victim’s death instead of from the date of the accident.
Tolling of the Statute of Limitations for Minors
In Missouri, the statute of limitations for minors who are seriously injured in accidents is tolled. This means that the limitations period does not begin running until an injured minor reaches the age of 21 under Missouri Revised Statutes § 516.170. At that time, the statute limitations for personal injury claims starts to run. In most accidents involving minors, however, the parents will file lawsuits on behalf of their children before they reach the age of majority.
Why Is There a Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents?
A statute of limitations is designed to give people who are involved enough time to gather relevant evidence and prepare their cases. They are also meant to protect defendants. By having statutes of limitations, the state keeps people from filing lawsuits many years after their accidents happened.
What Happens If You Fail to File a Lawsuit Within the Limitations Period?
If you do not file your lawsuit on time, you will be barred from trying to recover compensation for your losses. Unless you meet an exception, the court will likely refuse to hear your claim. Keep in mind that exceptions are rare.
So instead of waiting to file a lawsuit, we encourage you to contact an attorney at the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave as soon after your accident as possible. As more time passes between the date of your accident and when you speak to a lawyer, critical evidence could be lost. Procrastinating can also make the legal process more stressful and decrease the likelihood that you will succeed. Schedule a free consultation by calling us at 417-322-2222 or sending a message online.