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Why Timeliness is Vital in Personal Injury Cases

Laura Thomas Jan. 7, 2019

Deciding whether to consult a personal injury attorney about a potential case can be a difficult decision to make. The attorneys at Biesterveld & Crook, LLC encourage individuals contemplating contacting an attorney to reach out for a free initial consultation. If after speaking with an experienced personal injury lawyer you decide not to proceed, you are not out any money and you will have explored a professional opinion to better discuss the case you may have. Contacting an attorney soon after the incident is important, whether pursuing further or not. Waiting too long can only hurt the potential claim.

Recollection of Events and Witness Accounts

Recalling specific details about a personal injury incident can become more challenging as time passes. This is especially true in motor vehicle collisions, as there are more people involved and there are usually several factors that led to the crash. Remembering the time of the crash, the location, the cause, etc. will only get hazier with time.

In the event that another individual witnessed the incident, their recollection of the details could get lost over time as well. Contact information provided by witnesses can also change as time passes, which could present additional challenges in using that witness to benefit your case.

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations on personal injury cases that currently exists for Kansas residents is Statute 60-513(a)(4). It states that “an action for injury to the rights of another, not arising on contract, and not herein enumerated” is one of the actions that should be brought to the Court within two years. In short, this means that an injured party has two years from the date of the incident that caused the injuries to file a lawsuit against the person who caused the wreck.

Missouri’s statute of limitations is far less restricting, as Missouri statute 516.120 provides a five-year deadline for filing lawsuits for an “injury to the person”. This includes cases involving liability principle of negligence, including slip and fall incidents and intentional tort.

What Happens When the Statute of Limitations Expires?

After the two-year mark in Kansas or the five-year mark in Missouri, filing a personal injury lawsuit will almost always result in the defendant filing a motion to dismiss the case. While there are rare exceptions that can lead to extra time being needed, the Court most often grants the dismissals that are filed after the statute of limitation time frames have been exhausted.

“Tolling” is the term often used when the statute of limitations has expired. This is a legal term that means something has stopped the statute for a period of time and the time period will be extended because of this. Common reasons for tolling a statute of limitations include the following:

  • a party is/was deployed overseas for military duties

  • a party is/was under 18 years of age

  • a party is/was found to be mentally incompetent

  • a party is/was incarcerated

  • a party is/was bankrupt

Despite the chances of having a personal injury case tolled, it is strongly encouraged that the case still be filed within the statute of limitations. This is the safest decision because judges do not always rule in favor of granting these extensions.

What Can Be Expected when Filing a Personal Injury Claim?

Once the decision to hire a personal injury attorney has been made, the attorney will then proceed with a deeper investigation of your claim. This can include obtaining the accident/incident report, requesting medical records from health care providers, contacting other involved parties, and assessing damages. To view more details on what to expect during the various stages of a personal injury claim, click here.

To speak with a Biesterveld & Crook, LLC attorney, contact our office to schedule a free consultation.