If you've had your property ("real" or personal) damaged as a result of someone else's careless or intentional action in Missouri, you could be considering bringing a civil lawsuit over what happened. If so, it's important to understand the Missouri statute of limitations as it applies to property damage lawsuits.
For readers unfamiliar with the term, a "statute of limitations" is a state law that affects a potential plaintiff's right to file a lawsuit, by putting a strict limit on how much time can pass before they can get the case started in court. Every state has these laws on the books, with different time limits depending on the kind of case being filed.
In this article, we'll explain the property damage lawsuit filing deadline in Missouri, the consequences of missing the deadline, and the (rare) situations in which the time limit might be extended.
In Missouri, a property damage lawsuit must be filed within five years, according to Missouri Revised Statutes section 516.120, which sets this time limit for:
So, whether your potential case involves damage to real property (physical damage to your house or your land, for example) or personal property (including vehicle damage claims after a car accident), this five-year deadline applies. In both situations, the statute of limitations "clock" usually starts ticking as soon as the property owner becomes aware (or should have become aware) that someone else caused damage to his or her property.
What happens if you try to file your Missouri property damage lawsuit after the five-year time window has closed? In that situation, you can count on the defendant (the person you're trying to sue) asking the court to throw out the case. That means making a motion to dismiss the lawsuit based on the fact that you missed the statutory filing deadline. And the court is certain to grant the dismissal, unless rare circumstances apply to make an extension of the deadline appropriate (more on this later).
If your lawsuit is dismissed, you've essentially lost your right to any legal remedy for your damaged property. That's why it's crucial to pay attention to -- and make sure you comply with -- the Missouri statute of limitations as it applies to property damage claims.
For most kinds of civil lawsuits in Missouri -- including property damage claims -- a number of situations could effectively extend the five-year lawsuit filing deadline as laid out in the statute of limitations.
For example, if the property owner is under the age of 21 or is mentally incapacitated at the time the damage occurs, he or she will have the full five years to bring the property damage lawsuit once this period of "legal disability" ends (meaning once the property owner turns 21 or is declared competent), according to Missouri Revised Statutes section 516.170.
Other circumstances may affect the computation of the Missouri statute of limitations. If you've got questions about the statute of limitations as it applies to your potential property damage lawsuit -- especially if the filing deadline is fast approaching -- an experienced Missouri attorney will have the answers. Learn more about Finding an Excellent Lawyer.