*Note: The Statute of Limitations varies from state to state, and the state laws change often. COVID-19 can also change the Statute of Limitations.
The Statute of Limitations can either be your best friend or your worst nightmare depending on your situation. Whether you are guilty of a certain crime or trying to sue another person, if the time runs out then that is it. The idea behind the statute is about peace of mind and integrity of evidence. If someone commits a non-serious crime (not murder), then there is usually a time stamp connected to the crime in which the criminal can be prosecuted. This is because the government did not want someone to be in constant fear of getting caught. Also, if someone is convicted of a crime that happened 15 years ago based on eye-witness testimony, then who knows how accurate that testimony would be 15 years later. While the statute is all about fairness, it is important to know how it works in your state so that you do not lose valuable rights.
Keep in mind that the following statistics are for Missouri, for other states visit these sites: https://www.findlaw.com/injury/accident-injury-law/time-limits-to-bring-a-case-the-statute-of-limitations.html (Civil), https://www.findlaw.com/criminal/criminal-law-basics/time-limits-for-charges-state-criminal-statutes-of-limitations.html (Criminal). In Missouri, there is a 5-year statute of limitation for personal injury claims, and a 10-year statute of limitations for claims of fraud or debt collection claims. Generally, this clock starts as soon as the accident takes place, however, there are exceptions. Also, if you are injured as a minor, the statute does not begin to run until you become an adult.
In civil cases, the clock only starts once the injured person reasonably knew (or should have known) that they suffered an injury, and the nature of that injury. Most of the time (car accidents and slip-and-falls), the clock will start as soon as the accident takes place. You may have an extremely strong case, but if the statute of limitations has run, you will never get the compensation for your injuries.
Another complication may arise if you are injured in an accident in another state. In that case, the statute of limitations may be shorter than in Missouri. From experience of Fortman Law, we can tell you that most states have limitations periods shorter than Missouri. The statute of limitations can be a complicated and complex issue. If you believe you have been injured due to the actions of another, it is imperative that you seek legal counsel as soon as possible. Please contact Fortman Law for a free consultation to discuss your specific issue. We handle cases in Missouri and nationwide and would welcome the opportunity to discuss your case.