How Long After an Injury Can You Sue?

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How long after an injury one can sue is determined by what is called a statute of limitations.  Statutes of limitations exist for every possible criminal and civil offense there is, except for tax-related crimes and homicide.  Whether it is how long a state has to bring a criminal charge for an alleged crime against someone or how long one has to bring a civil lawsuit against another party, statutes of limitation exist to set limits on how long a period of time civil or criminal legal action may be taken on a matter.

The theory on this is that after a certain period of time, a potential plaintiff has had long enough to file suit, or a state has had long enough to file criminal charges and that after a legislatively determined time period, such legal claims or criminal charges can no longer be pursued.  This avoids clogging the court system up with frivolous cases stemming from an accident or incident that happened so long ago it has faded into irrelevancy.

For personal injury claims, the statute of limitations is generally shorter than for other types of civil claims.  For example, Illinois sets a time limit of two years on the filing of a personal injury lawsuit in the state’s civil court system.  The standard time limit for Missouri personal injury lawsuits, on the other hand, is a long five years, under the Missouri personal injury statute of limitations, Missouri Code section 516.120. Thus, in Missouri, any lawsuits seeking a legal remedy for an “injury to the person” must be filed within five years of discovering the injury.

As you can see, states vary with how long after an injury you are allowed to bring a lawsuit.  That is why it is important to contact a professional attorney as soon as possible after suffering your injury, as they will have the knowledge of these statutes of limitation to ensure your case is filed timely and correctly.

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Call An Attorney at Walton & Telken Today

If you are injured as the victim of an accident resulting from someone else’s negligence or misconduct and are in the Missouri or Illinois area, call the attorneys at Walton & Telken today.  We are licensed and skilled attorneys who have a wealth of experience dealing with personal injury cases and have successfully helped our clients get the most out of their claims.

Trust us to handle your workers’ compensation claim by contacting us online or calling us today at (618) 272-2284 in Illinois, or (314) 254-4486 in Missouri to set up a consultation with an attorney who will review your claim and assist you in understanding what you are entitled to.


Q: When does the statute of limitations begin to run?

A: Varying state-o-state, there is more than one rule to determine at which point the statute of limitations on a personal injury claim begins to run.  One rule is that the statute of limitations begins to run the day of the accident that led to the injury.  Another approach is that the statute of limitations begins to run on the day the injury is discovered rather than the day the accident occurred.

Q: Are there exceptions to the statute of limitations for honest reasons for missing the deadline?

A: No, there are no exceptions to the statute of limitations, no matter how good of a reason you may have for missing the time period in which you had to sue.

Q: What determines the time limits states put on how long you have to file a personal injury lawsuit.

A:  The statute of limitations on personal injury claims is established by the state’s legislature, which collectively takes input from various informative sources as to what constitutes a reasonable time limit to put on a certain type of legal claim or criminal charge.

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