Missouri Personal Injury Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations for personal injury & accidents in Missouri is five (5) years (Ref: Mo. Rev. Stat. § 516.120). 


What this means is that you (or your attorney) must file a lawsuit against a defendant within five years of the date of your accident. If you do not file a lawsuit within five years, generally you forfeit any potential claim against the defendant as a matter of law - meaning there will be no opportunity for a settlement, arbitration, or trial. 


Disclaimer: Although the information presented on this page is generally true there are some exceptions to this information, and the Missouri Statute of Limitations (and the exceptions) may change over time. If you or a family member was involved in an accident and considering seeking compensation for your injuries it is crucial that you speak to a Missouri personal injury lawyer to discuss your claim and potential recovery.

Variations on Time Limits for Filing a Lawsuit in Missouri

There are some variations & exceptions to the 5 years statute of limitations on personal injury cases in Missouri. Because of this, it is critical you discuss your matter with a lawyer who is highly experienced in personal injury law.


  • If the injured person is under the age of 21 or is mentally incapacitated at the time the accident occurs, he or she will have the full five years to bring the personal injury lawsuit once this period of "legal disability" ends (meaning once the injured person turns 21 or is declared competent).
  • If the person responsible for the plaintiff's injuries (the defendant) is a resident of the state of Missouri, but he or she leaves the state sometime after the underlying accident, and before the lawsuit can be filed, the period of absence probably won't be counted as part of the five-year filing period (the "clock" won't run during this time, in other words).

What if You Miss the Deadline to File a Lawsuit?

If you miss the deadline to file a lawsuit and the Missouri statute of limitations passes (barring any exceptions), the opposing party will almost surely move for case dismissal and it will likely be granted. This also means that nearly any hope of a settlement will also be forfeited because there is no leverage to potentially pursue a trial (since it would immediately be dismissed). 

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