When you must file a claim for compensation after a car accident, it's helpful to understand how the process works, how much your claim is worth, and important laws that govern your case.
A vital law to know and follow is the statute of limitations—or time period—for filing your lawsuit. If you fail to do so, it could have dire consequences on your right to compensation for your injuries from the negligent driver.
Each state has its own laws regarding the statute of limitations in car accident cases, and this is true of Missouri and Kansas. If you were injured in a wreck in either of these states caused by another motorist, here’s what you need to know for filing your lawsuit.
Missouri’s Statute of Limitations in Auto Wreck Cases
In Missouri, there's more than one rule on the time limit to sue a negligent driver. How long you have to file a claim depends on whether it's for injuries or a loved one’s death. These time limits apply:
- Personal injury or property damage. If you suffered injuries in a motor vehicle wreck, you must file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver within five years of the date of the accident. This deadline also applies to a claim for property damage, such as to your vehicle or possessions in it at the time of your wreck.
- Wrongful death. If a family member died in the car accident, you would have three years from the date of his death—not the date of the accident—to file a wrongful death action.
Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Cases in Kansas
You may be surprised at how different the statute of limitations laws are in Kansas than in Missouri. These rules apply:
- Personal injury and property damage. You have two years from the date of the crash to file a lawsuit against a negligent motorist for personal injuries or damage to your property.
- Wrongful death. You also have two years to file a wrongful death action if a loved one’s death was caused by a driver’s negligence. However, this time period starts on the date of his death—not the date of the wreck.
What Happens If the Statute of Limitations Expires?
In both Missouri and Kansas, if you don't file a lawsuit within the specified time period, you won't be able to pursue your claim in court, as the judge would most likely dismiss your case.
Technically, you could still file a claim with the negligent party's insurance company, it wouldn't have any incentive to settle with you, because the adjuster
would know the statute of limitations had expired.
Why Contacting an Attorney Sooner vs. Later Is Always Better
Even though you may have years before the statute of limitations expires to file your lawsuit against the negligent driver, it's crucial to contact an experienced car accident attorney immediately after your crash.
If you delay in doing so, this may weaken your case and hamper your lawyer’s ability to settle your claim for its full value. Here's how:
- Witnesses to the accident could disappear, and vital evidence might be lost.
- You could make an inadvertent mistake in your case, such as agreeing to give a recorded statement, signing a blanket medical authorization, or negotiating a settlement on your own.
- You may limit your attorney’s ability to investigate the accident and retain helpful expert witnesses to reenact the accident to show how the other driver caused it.
What happens if you don't retain an attorney right away? An experienced car accident attorney will have strategies for dealing with any problems this may have caused to your case.
To obtain assistance in filing a claim after a car accident, call our office today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.