Auto Accident Law
The Statute of Limitations: Lawsuit Deadlines in Missouri
Like all states, Missouri has laws that limit the amount of time you have to go to court and file a lawsuit after a car accident.
In Missouri, anyone who has been injured in a car accident has five years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. You are also limited to five years for lawsuits involving only property damage caused by a car accident (i.e. damage to your vehicle). See the full text of this law at Missouri Revised Statutes section 516.120.
Missouri's five-year statute of limitations only affects how long you have to file a case in court. It doesn't limit the time you have to file an insurance claim. Your insurance policy will contain any relevant deadlines. No matter how much time your insurance company gives you to file, however, it's wise to file your claim as soon as possible if you suffer injury or vehicle damage in a car accident. Filing near the beginning of the five-year statutory "window" gives you and your insurance company plenty of time to negotiate a settlement -- while still leaving you the important option of taking your case to court if you need to.
Missouri's Comparative Fault Rules
Missouri also has laws that dictate how a car accident case is handled if more than one party is to blame for causing the accident. Like several other states, Missouri follows a "pure" comparative fault rule in this situation.
Pure comparative fault works like this: Suppose you file a lawsuit in court after you are injured in a car accident. After hearing your case, the jury decides that the total damages award should be $10,000. The jury also finds the other driver to be 80 percent at fault for the accident, and deems you 20 percent at fault.
Under Missouri's pure comparative fault rule, you will receive 80 percent of the total damages amount, or $8,000, in this example. This number represents the total amount of damages, multiplied by the percentage of fault the other driver was found to have. You can also think of it as the total amount of damages minus the percentage of fault you were found to have. Since Missouri is a "pure" comparative fault state, this formula remains the same regardless of the amount of fault you are found to have -- you can always recover some amount of damages from another at-fault party.
Missouri Car Insurance Laws and Regulations
Missouri laws require drivers to carry certain kinds and amounts of insurance coverage on their vehicles. For more information on these requirements, see our companion article, Car Insurance Laws in Missouri.
Contact us today at (573) 334-2079 and let us get started on your case