Statute of Limitations in Missouri

Questions about the statute of limitations in Missouri are often asked by injury victims and their families, such as:

“How long do I have to sue for a wrongful death?”

“What’s the deadline for opening a worker’s compensation claim?”

“If I was in a car accident, do I need to file a claim right away or do I have some leeway?”

We answer some of your questions below.

What Does “Statute of Limitations” Mean?

In the legal sense, each state sets its own statute of limitations on different types of crimes or cases. The statute of limitations is how long you have to begin legal proceedings. If, for example, a certain state says you aren’t able to bring a car accident claim to court after two years, then you are prevented from filing once this time period expires.

There are a number of reasons for the statutes of limitations, such as:

  • Evidence being lost
  • Witness testimonies changing
  • Reasonable justice

If you were in an accident six years ago and on a whim decide to sue the business you slipped and fell in for ongoing medical treatment or rehabilitation, you’d have a difficult time winning over a jury. Why? Because you didn’t show prudence or it appears as if you weren’t interested in a settlement until after the fact.

Missouri Statute of Limitations

The Missouri Statute of Limitations is set in place for both formal criminal charges and civil complaints. The purpose is, as mentioned, to protect the integrity of evidence and to prevent victims from indefinitely threatening lawsuits against defendants (companies, people, or insurers).

In Missouri, the statute of limitations is two years for defamation and personal injury claims. For debt and fraud related claims, the statute of limitations is ten years. Serious criminal lawsuits, such as for murder, don’t have a time limit. Misdemeanors have a one-year time limit. Civil Procedure and Limitations Code 516.140 states that a two-year limit applies to assault, false imprisonment, unpaid wages, and other claims of that nature.

Why Are “Statutes of Limitations” Important?

These time limits are set in place for a reason. If you have a personal injury claim, for example, statutes and exceptions exist so that the alleged defendant isn’t faced with a lawsuit years down the line. All cases should be handled as soon as possible with insurance companies or in court.

The length of time that you have to pursue legal action is heavily based on the type of injury you suffered. If you slander someone, for example, it makes sense that a case would be irrelevant due to poor testimony after a year. A broken contract, on the other hand, has a decade-long lifespan.