Most people want to make a financial recovery soon after they’re injured in a car wreck. That’s especially true if they can’t return to work right away or face expensive medical bills. Besides the need for financial stability, there’s another crucial reason to file a claim or bring a lawsuit against the negligent party quickly. Like many other states, Missouri has a statute of limitations that restricts how long you have to recover damages.
What is the Statute of Limitations in Missouri for a Personal Injury Claim After a Car Wreck?
In most states, injured car accident victims have a two-year period to bring a claim or file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. Missouri has instituted a five-year statute of limitations, which provides more breathing room for people who have been seriously hurt. Waiting beyond that period prevents injured parties from recovering damages for costs such as hospital bills or vehicle damage.
You may wonder why you would ever need five years to bring a lawsuit. But sometimes, it may take you or other injured occupants of the vehicle a long time to reach maximum medical improvement. That's important because you can’t effectively place a value on your damages if you don’t know their full extent or how long they will impact your life.
If you miss a month’s work and then return to normal activity without any long-term disability, calculating what you are owed may be simple. However, that’s not the case if the type of injuries you sustained in a car accident require long-term recovery. You could need additional surgeries or treatment in the future. When dealing with catastrophic wounds such as traumatic brain injuries or amputations, you may also require language, occupational, or physical therapy that could continue for an extended period.
Why Should I Contact an Attorney Quickly Following a Car Crash?
It’s important to begin the process of investigating the car crash and gathering all the evidence as soon as possible. Crucial details that are critical to your financial recovery may not be available if you wait until months or years after the crash to start the process. Eyewitnesses may forget details, and video evidence may get deleted. Those are all details your attorney needs when negotiating with insurance companies or presenting your car accident case to a jury.
If you miss the legal deadline for filing a personal injury claim set by Missouri’s statute of limitations, your ability to recover financially may be entirely lost. Your insurer may ignore your claim, and any lawsuit you file will likely be tossed out. It’s important to avoid this, especially if you can’t go back to the same job and have to stop working or can only work at a reduced capacity.
How a Lawyer Can Help
- Determine who is liable for your damages in the accident. That person may be the other driver, the manufacturer of a faulty car part, or someone else.
- File paperwork within strict legal deadlines set by state and federal law.
- Place a specific value on your damages, which could include hospital bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and property damage. In accidents involving fatalities, you may also pursue a wrongful death claim.
- Explain how to avoid common errors when talking to insurance adjusters.