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Missouri Civil Statute of Limitations Laws

Overview of State Civil Statutes of Limitations

States impose time limits for filing a civil lawsuit, called the "statute of limitations." Criminal prosecutors also have time limits for bringing charges against suspects (also referred to as the statute of limitations). While all states have statutes of limitation for filing civil actions, they tend to vary from one cause of action to another. Also, courts typically don't start the "clock" until an injury is discovered or until the point at which it should have been discovered.

These statutes of limitation are intended to ensure the efficiency of the legal process, while preventing a potential plaintiff from threatening a lawsuit indefinitely. Additionally, statutes of limitation (in both civil and criminal law) help preserve the integrity of evidence and witness testimony. The majority of lawsuits carry a time limit of between one and four years in most states.

Missouri Civil Statute of Limitation Laws at a Glance

In Missouri, plaintiffs have up to two years in which to file a lawsuit for personal injury, defamation, and medical malpractice (10 years maximum allowed for discovery of an injury). Injury to property, trespassing, and enforcement of written contracts carry a five-year statute of limitation. The longest time limit for civil suits -- 10 years -- is reserved for fraud, rent collection, debt collection, and judgments.

The following table lists all of these time limits for civil cases in Missouri, with links to additional sources. See FindLaw's Injury Law Basics section to learn more about the process of filing an injury action.

Injury to Person 5 yrs. §516.140
Libel/Slander 2 yrs. §516.140
Fraud 10 yrs. §516.120(5)
Injury to Personal Property 5 yrs. §516.120(4)
Professional Malpractice Medical: 2 yrs. from discovery, max. 10. §516.105
Trespass 5 yrs. §516.120(3)
Collection of Rents 10 yrs. §516.110(3)
Contracts Written: 5 yrs; for payment of money or property, 10 yrs. §516.120(1); 516.110; Oral: 5 yrs. §516.120(1)
Collection of Debt on Account 10 yrs. if in writing §516.10(1)
Judgments 10 yrs. §516.350

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Missouri personal injury attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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