Joplin personal injury law firmIf you want to have any chance of being successful with a personal injury lawsuit, the first step is filing your court case before the deadline. As any Joplin personal injury law firm can tell you, filing your lawsuit before the “statute of limitations” period ends is crucial. Every type of civil claim has a specific time limit for filing and, if you miss it, your lawsuit will likely be dismissed before it even starts. Our Joplin personal injury attorney will make sure you meet the statute of limitations period that applies to your particular civil case if you bring the case to us in time.

Why is it Necessary to Have a Statute of Limitations for Lawsuits?

The main reason courts impose a statute of limitations is practicality. Basically, if you wait too long to file, the evidence needed to either support or discredit your legal claims is more likely to have been destroyed, just as the memories of relevant witnesses are often less accurate as time passes.  In accident cases, for example, the scene almost always changes over time. Also, business records are usually destroyed periodically as a normal course of business.  In order to preserve the evidence you need to support your claims, it is crucial that you file your lawsuit as soon as possible, but definitely before the statute of limitations period ends.

The Statute of Limitations Period Maybe Tolled

Some jurisdictions have rules allowing the statute of limitations period to be “tolled” or suspended under certain circumstances. For example, if the injured party is a minor or if bankruptcy proceedings are involved the statute of limitations period may need to be adjusted.  In those situations, the running of the limitations period is suspended until the specific situation ends. Equitable tolling can be used for individuals who were intimidated or coerced into not filing their claims or when someone relies on a promise that the period would be suspended.  In those situations, it would be unfair or inequitable to hold that party to the original statute of limitations period.

Understanding the “Discovery Rule?”

Another example of tolling or suspending the statute of limitations period is the “discovery rule.” Under that rule, the period does not begin to run until an injury is discovered or, depending on the circumstances, when it should have been discovered. The discovery rule is most often applied in medical malpractice and wrongful death cases because the cause of the injury or death is not always apparent when it first occurs.  For that reason, the statute of limitations period does not officially start until the injury is discovered or reasonably should have been discovered by the party bringing the claim.  Not every state applies the discovery rule in the same manner, depending on the injury and other circumstances. If you have claims in Missouri, our Joplin personal injury law firm can help you determine when the statute of limitations period starts for your particular claim.

What is the Missouri Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Claims?

In Missouri, plaintiffs have two years to file a lawsuit for personal injury, defamation, and medical malpractice.  The discovery statute can also apply in Missouri, for a maximum of 10 years from the date of injury.  Claims for injury to property, trespassing, and enforcement of written contracts are subject to a five-year statute of limitation. Claims of fraud, rent collection, debt collection, and judgments are all governed by a 10-year-statute of limitation. The statute of limitations for a wrongful death action in Missouri is three (3) years.  If you have questions about other types of cases, our Joplin personal injury law firm can help.

What About Claims Against a Governmental Entity?

In Missouri, an injury claim against a state entity must be filed with the Office of Administration’s Risk Management Division, within 90 days of the injury.  It is wise to seek the assistance of a Joplin personal injury attorney if you have a claim against a government entity. The deadlines for claims against a county or municipality are different, so speak to our Joplin personal injury law firm to determine the appropriate deadline for your claims.
If you have questions regarding the statute of limitations or any other personal injury matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (888) 616-6356.

Author Photo

Wesley Cottrell

Wes Cottrell earned his B.A. from Pittsburg State University in 1981 and his J.D. from the Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas in 1985. He was admitted to practice law in Kansas in 1986, in Missouri in 1987, in Arkansas in 1989, and Oklahoma in 1993. He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.

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