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How long do I have to file a lawsuit after an accident or injury?

If you were injured or one of your loved ones has died because of the negligent actions of another person, you have the right to file a lawsuit to seek compensation for any damages. In court, you will need to prove that the person was negligent and the damages were a result of the negligence. You may also need to demonstrate some other facts depending on the type of case.

One limiting factor for a civil claim is the length of time between the incident and the court case. In most circumstances, a person must file the lawsuit within a certain length of time. This fact may become important to you, especially if you have lost a loved one to an accident. You will likely be grieving, but not wasting any time could prove imperative to your case.

Understanding statute of limitations

Why shouldn't you waste time? Simply stated, because of a rule called the statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is the amount of time that you have between the incident and the lawsuit. If you wait too long, you may lose your right to bring the suit, forever. This could leave you and your family vulnerable from the costs and difficulties associated with your injury or the loss of a loved one.

Various types of claims

There are several types of personal injury claims, including medical malpractice, premises liability and wrongful death. The statute of limitations varies by state, and in some states, certain types of cases have different lengths for limitations. Some cases involving minors may not start the clock until the minor becomes of legal age.

Discovery of harm and your limits

There is another component to the statute of limitations called the discovery of harm. Basically, in certain types of cases, the clock would not start until the damage was discovered. For example, if a piece of medical equipment was left inside of you after a surgery, and you later have a surgery for abdominal pain that reveals the foreign object, you have discovered the cause of the problem. The clock for the statute of limitations would start when you discovered the problem, not when the initial issue occurred.

In Missouri, the statute of limitations is five years, meaning that you have five years from the date of discovery, or from the date of the incident depending on the type of case, to file a personal injury claim. Those looking for more assistance with filing a claim or people seeking an evaluation of their case may wish to consult with an experienced attorney for more guidance.

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