Deadlines for Car Accident Lawsuits

Knowing the statute of limitations is essential if you get hurt in a car crash someone else causes. You must understand how much time you have to file a lawsuit against the negligent driver or another party.

Even if you decide to pursue an insurance claim first, the result might not be what you want, and you have to sue the at-fault party anyway. If the timeframe for filing suit has already passed, you can lose your right to pursue compensation in court.

Here, you will find the statute of limitations for car accident lawsuits, exceptions to state law, and the process for handling claims against the government.

What Is a Statute of Limitations?

A statute of limitations is the law that dictates the timeframe after an accident when a person can file a lawsuit against someone else to pursue compensation. Statutes of limitation can vary depending on the situation. For example, filing a lawsuit against a public entity is allowed a shorter timeframe than suing a private citizen. There are also exceptions to the statutory deadline, giving accident victims additional time to pursue a case under specific circumstances.

Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents

You have limited time to sue someone for the injuries you sustain in a car accident. In Missouri, the statute of limitations allows a five-year timeframe to file a lawsuit. That means you must initiate your lawsuit against another party within five years of the crash date.

You might be unable to hold someone liable for their misconduct if you don’t file suit within the required timeframe. However, there are some exceptions to this deadline that could allow more time to pursue legal action.

Light Vehicle Car Accident

Exceptions to the Car Accident Statute of Limitation

Three exceptions to the statute of limitations can extend or delay the timeframe for filing a lawsuit after a car crash. The three exceptions include:

  • Underage minor – If you are under 18 years old when the collision occurs, you don’t have to file suit within five years of the accident date. Instead, you have five years from the date you turn 21. However, a parent or legal guardian can file on their minor child’s behalf. If they do, the five-year timeframe will start on the accident date.
  • Mental incapacitation – You can also prevent the statute from running if you are mentally incapacitated at the time of the accident. You must initiate your lawsuit within five years of gaining mental competency.
  • Out of state – The defendant might leave the state temporarily after the crash but before you file suit. If that happens, their absence won’t count toward the five-year timeframe. The timeframe won’t resume until the defendant returns. 

Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Surviving family members can pursue a wrongful death case if someone dies due to another party’s negligence or intentional act. According to state law, wrongful death is the death of a person caused by someone else’s transaction, act, occurrence, conduct, or circumstances that would entitle the person to compensation if they had not died.

Only specific people in the deceased’s line of descent can file a wrongful death lawsuit, including:

  • Spouse
  • Parents
  • Children
  • Children’s descendants if surviving children are deceased

If none of these individuals survive the deceased, a sibling or their descendants can file suit.

The court will appoint a plaintiff ad litem to handle the claim if the accident victim has no surviving family members. Someone entitled to share proceeds from a wrongful death award must request the court to choose a plaintiff ad litem.

The statute of limitations allows a three-year timeframe to initiate a lawsuit against the at-fault party. That means you have three years from the date of your loved one’s death to file your lawsuit for compensation.

One exception applies to the timeframe for pursuing a wrongful death case. If the defendant is absent or departs from the state before you file the lawsuit, their absence will not count as part of the three-year timeframe. You can wait until they return to Missouri to initiate your case against them.

Requirements to Sue the Government

Suing governmental entities differs significantly from lawsuits against individuals and companies. Typically, sovereign immunity protects city, county, and state governments from lawsuits for their employees’ negligent conduct.

However, state law waives immunity for negligent acts and omissions if either scenario applies to the car crash:

  • Your injury is due to the entity’s dangerous condition, and an employee’s wrongful act or omission during the course of their employment created the dangerous condition, or the entity had constructive or actual notice of the condition with substantial time to protect against it before the injury. You must also show the dangerous condition directly caused your injury and created a risk the entity could have reasonably foreseen.
  • Your injury is due to an employee’s negligent acts or omissions while operating a motor vehicle or motorized vehicle in the course of their employment.

A dangerous condition can be an unrepaired pothole that contributed to the crash. The city might be responsible for maintaining roadways but failed to address the hazard before the crash.

You could file a lawsuit against an entity if an employee caused a crash while driving a vehicle, such as an ambulance or police patrol car, for their job.

You must file an injury claim with the Office of Administration’s Risk Management Division. You only have 90 days from the date of the accident to file your claim. 

Injured in a Car Accident? Call The McCallister Law Firm Now

A car accident can be traumatic. You might face a lengthy and painful recovery. Seeking action against another motorist or a governmental entity might seem overwhelming. You don’t have to go through this alone.

The McCallister Law Firm has represented injured clients since 1996. We will protect your rights and aggressively pursue the money owed to you. You can depend on our legal team to fight by your side to try to achieve a favorable outcome. 

Contact us for a free consultation with an experienced car accident lawyer in Kansas City if you were injured in a car crash due to someone else’s negligent actions.

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