Missouri is one of only four states that let claimants stall for five years before filing a lawsuit
Legal climate ranking is frequently a large factor weighed by site selectors and employers seeking to expand or relocate. Though the Missouri Chamber has successfully advocated for several notable legal reforms in recent years, there is still more progress to be made — in its most recent report, the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform ranked Missouri’s overall legal climate as 44th in the nation.
One such reform the Missouri Chamber is pursuing is a commonsense change to the statute of limitations.
Missouri plaintiffs currently have a five-year statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits, one of the longest in the country — double or more the amount of time provided by many other states.
But over time records are lost or discarded, witnesses pass away or cannot be located, and memories fade.
This loss of evidence impairs courts’ ability to rule fairly.
Sen. Dan Hegeman, a Republican from Cosby, is sponsoring Senate Bill 631 to address this issue.
His bill would bring Missouri into the mainstream by setting a two-year statute of limitations for bringing personal injury claims.
For context, Missouri already has a two-year statute for other types of claims including medical malpractice, libel, slander, assault and battery.
At the bill’s first Senate hearing on Jan. 11, Hegeman said changing the statute will be a strong signal that Missouri is serious about restoring its reputation for providing justice to all litigants in a timely manner.
“Most people want justice and then want to move on with their lives,” said Hegeman. “Missouri has not amended the five-year statute since 1939. While five years might have made sense in an age when transportation and communications were more challenging, there’s no reason today for an injured person to need so much time to file an action.”
Missouri Chamber Vice President of Governmental Affairs Kara Corches testified in favor of the bill.