Is There A Time Limit To File A Lawsuit?
If you've been in a car accident, slipped, fell, and injured yourself, or suffered a wrongful death in the family recently, you may be thinking about filing a lawsuit against the person or company who caused your injuries, pain, and suffering. But we understand that sometimes life gets in the way of you contacting a St. Louis law firm and getting your case started.
However, you should know that while patience may be a virtue, it is not a good idea when filing a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. There is a time limit when it comes to all types of both criminal and civil court cases, and it varies depending on what type of case you have. The skilled personal injury lawyers at Halvorsen Klote can help you find out if the clock has run out on your potential case, and if it has not can make sure you take your case to court as soon as possible. Call them today at 1-877-51-HKLAW for a free consultation.
About Statutes of Limitations
If you've ever watched a police procedural on TV, you are probably well aware that certain types of criminal charges must be brought before a judge within a certain time limit, or they will not be heard. What you may not know is that statutes of limitations apply to all legal scenarios, civil and criminal both, with the usual exception of homicide. They are found in every legal system across the world, though in civil law systems they are more commonly called "prescriptive periods".
Statutes of limitations are one of the oldest legal precedents: records exist from the 5th century B.C. showing that ancient Athens had a five year limit on bringing non-murder cases in front of judges. They are put in place to encourage defendants to bring cases forward in a timely manner and limit fradulent claims. In some situations, statutes of limitations can be extended for specific reasons, such as the plaintiff in the case being a minor (a process called tolling), or important evidence in the case had not been found yet (known as discovery).
Statutes of Limitations In Missouri and Illinois
As we said earlier, statutes of limitations vary not only case-by-case, but also state-by-state. For instance, if you live in Missouri but suffered injuries from a motorcycle accident in Illinois, you would have to follow Illinois' timeline for personal injury lawsuits and not Missouri's.
Statutes of limitations in Missouri for common civil cases we handle are as follows:
- Personal Injury: 5 years from the date of the accident. This includes premises liabilty cases, cases involving defective products, and property damage cases. Cases involving minors are tolled until they turn 21.
- Wrongful Death: three years from the date of death. There are no exceptions for tolling or discovery in Missouri.
- Debt Collection: ten years if a written contract exists, five years for earnings taxes or debts without a written contract, three years for other state taxes. "Written contract" debts include credit cards, mortgages, and loans where an object such as a car was put up as collateral.
Statutes of limitations in Illinois for common civil cases we see are:
- Personal Injury: two years from the date of the accident. If personal property was damaged or crucial evidence was fradulently concealed, the statute of limitations stretches to five years. Cases involving minors are tolled until they turn 18.
- Wrongful Death: two years from the date of death. Cases involving minors are again tolled until they turn 18. Cases involving medical malpractice have a four-year statute of repose, meaning that a claim must be filed in this window: the statute of limitations then kicks in whenever the plaintiff "knew of the existence of the injury".
- Debt Collection: same as Missouri: ten years for written agreements, five years for those without written agreements. State appellate courts ruled in Portfolio Acquisitions v. Feltman (2009) that credit card debts are not written agreements and thus are subject to the five-year limitation.