After sustaining an injury from a defective product, you may wonder how long you have to file a product liability lawsuit.
Product liability is the legal liability of a manufacturer for producing or selling a faulty product.
You can base a product liability lawsuit on defective product design, hidden defects, failure to warn, malfunctions, or flawed manufacturing processes.
Missouri courts set specific deadlines, or statutes of limitations, for filing a product liability claim. You must file a claim for your injuries before the time limit expires.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is a law that limits when a party can file a lawsuit. If the time runs out, courts almost always deny a victim’s claim for compensation.
Though sometimes frustrating for injured parties that think it seems unfair to have a lawsuit dismissed on a technicality, it’s the law.
Statutes of limitation serve an important purpose in the civil justice system. They help preserve important witness testimony and evidence.
If there were no statutes of limitation, a person could indefinitely threaten someone with a lawsuit. A statute of limitations ensures justice for all parties.
What Is the Missouri Statute of Limitations for Product Liability Claims?
In Missouri, the product liability statute of limitations is five years from when the injury occurred.
This length of time is generous compared with most states. Although you have five years to bring a claim, you may hurt your chances when you wait too long to file a claim.
Over time, memories fade, and evidence is lost. Without key evidence, your chance of recovering the compensation you deserve can be jeopardized.
What Happens If I Miss the Statute of Limitations Deadline?
Missouri courts strictly enforce the statute of limitations. If you fail to bring your claim within the required time frame, the court may dismiss your claim immediately.
If you miss the statute of limitations, the other parties may refuse to negotiate or settle because you no longer have a viable legal claim.
Exceptions to the Missouri Statute of Limitations
Though limited, there are exceptions to the statute of limitations.
In most cases, the clock begins ticking from the date of the accident that gave rise to the injury.
However, the statute of limitations may not start to run if the plaintiff did not know and could not know that the injury occurred.
Under the discovery rule, Missouri statutory and case law provides that the cause of action shall only accrue once the damage can be reasonably ascertained.
The discovery rule can extend the statute of limitations for plaintiffs in cases where the plaintiff does not reasonably discover the claim in time to meet the deadline.
This exception may be especially applicable in a product liability lawsuit involving harmful chemicals or pharmaceuticals.
Under these circumstances, individuals can be exposed for many years before becoming ill.
Minors or Mentally Incapacitated
Missouri law extends the statute of limitations period if the victim is under 21 years old or is mentally incapacitated. The five-year limit begins when the minor turns 21.
In the case of incapacity, the limitations period begins when the person is declared competent. A parent or legal guardian can file a claim on their behalf before that time.
Defendant Leaves Missouri
The statute of limitations can be tolled if the defendant who caused the injury is a resident of Missouri and leaves the state after the accident but before the suit is filed.
The law pauses the statute of limitations while the defendant is out of state.
For example, if the defendant leaves the state for one year, the plaintiff will have six years from the accident date to file the claim instead of five.
Extension for Plaintiff’s Death
The right to sue survives the death of the injured victim. If a defective product caused the victim’s death, the tolling provision for death would allow the estate an additional year to file a product liability lawsuit.
Consulting with an experienced attorney licensed in Missouri can help determine when your limitations period began.
Exceptions can be challenging to prove in some instances. It is essential to bring your claim before the product liability statute of limitations expires.
Injured by a Defective Product? Contact an Experienced Missouri Product Liability Attorney Today
The best way to ensure you file your claim on time is to find an experienced personal injury attorney. Building a case and obtaining evidence to support your claims is complicated.
Let us help. The Cottrell Law Office has developed a reputation for being among the best at getting favorable outcomes for clients.
We aim to make the legal process of obtaining compensation for your injuries as painless as possible. We have over 32 years of experience helping injured clients get compensation.
Call or contact us online today.