Personal injury cases are governed by state laws and rules when an injured victim brings a legal claim against another party. You may begin a personal injury claim by contacting the defendant's insurer or by filing an action in a Missouri court. Your legal action alleges that the defendant acted negligently, recklessly or intentionally in causing you physical injury and that you should receive damages. A personal injury claim may involve injuries sustained as a result of an automobile accident, a negligently designed or manufactured product, medical malpractice or premises liability.
The Statute of Limitations
Each personal injury claim has a deadline by which it must be filed in court, or you will likely forfeit any opportunity to collect compensation for your injuries. Missouri has a five-year limit for personal injury claims based on negligence. For injury claims resulting from the intentional misconduct of the responsible party, the statute is only two years. The statute of limitations begins when the plaintiff or claimant suffers the injury. In some cases, an injury may not be readily apparent until years later. In this case, the statute begins to run when the injury could have been discovered or when it was diagnosed.
The statute is tolled, or paused, in situations where a claimant is under the age of 21, was mentally incompetent at the time when the injury occurred, or when the defendant has filed for bankruptcy. Minors under the age of eight who are claiming an injury because of medical malpractice must file a lawsuit by their 20th birthday.
Is Missouri a Comparative Fault State?
If you were responsible to some degree for causing the injuries that resulted in your claim, you are penalized for the percentage by which you were at fault. Missouri has a pure comparative fault law which provides that compensation awarded to you is reduced by your degree of fault. You may still recover some compensation, however, even if your degree of fault is 99 percent.
What is the Discovery Process?
When your injury claim is filed in a Missouri court and the defendant is served and responds to your complaint for damages, the discovery phase of your case begins. This consists of interrogatories, requests for documents, requests for admissions, subpoenas for physical or mental examinations, and depositions.
Interrogatories are written questions submitted to either party that ask for information about insurance, employment, and medical and residential history. As the plaintiff, you can be asked for details about the accident, your medical expenses, and the identity of witnesses. Defendants can be asked about facts that support their defenses to the allegations presented in your complaint.
Either party may also request depositions where the opposing party or any witnesses give sworn testimony before a court reporter and respond to oral questioning by attorneys.
As the injured party, you may be required to undergo a physical or, if certain emotional damages are alleged, a mental examination. A doctor chosen by the defendant performs the examination, then issues a report or testifies at trial regarding his or her findings and opinions regarding your injuries.
Contact a Missouri Personal Injury Attorney
Missouri has its own unique laws and rules regarding how a personal injury claim is handled. A Missouri personal injury lawyer can properly advise you and represent your legal interests to help you obtain the best possible result.