Missouri Statute of Limitations, Civil Actions

The Missouri Statute of Limitations for civil actions sets a time limit after an injury or civil wrong occurs, during which an injured party can file a lawsuit. After that period of time expires, the injured party is no longer permitted to file a claim in a Missouri state court to litigate that matter. The statute ensures that lawsuits that have merit and worthy of being heard are filed within a reasonable time or not at all.

How Does the Statute of Limitations Operate?

The period of time to file a claim will vary depending upon the type of incident that occurred. A claim against a doctor for medical malpractice may be for a different length of time than against an accountant for negligence or fraud. The Missouri statute of limitations can generally be found within the Missouri Revised Statutes and covers the following rules and exceptions in greater detail.

When does the Missouri Statute of Limitations Begin?

Other than for specific exceptions, the Missouri statute of limitations generally begins to run at the time when a “cause of action arises” – in other words, at the time when an injury occurs that would qualify for a lawsuit to be filed in a Missouri state court.

What is the Discovery Rule?

There are times when a person is unable to discover that they have been injured. For example, fraud that is concealed by an accountant and is not easily discoverable or a medical condition resulting from a doctor’s misdiagnosis that can only be detected after the patient’s health deteriorates. It wouldn’t be fair or reasonable to require the injured party to file a lawsuit when they could not have detected the injury. As a result, in some instances the Missouri statute of limitations begins to run from the time the injured party discovers or should have discovered that they have been injured.

Delaying or Tolling the Missouri Statute of Limitations

In certain circumstances, fairness would require that the statute of limitations be delayed for a period of time. A party may not have the ability to bring a case even though they are aware of an injury or damages. Delaying or “tolling” the statute of limitations typically occurs when the plaintiff is “disabled” – such as a minor child or a person who is mentally incompetent or bankrupt. Once the disability ends, the statute of limitations begins to run.

Calculating the length of time that a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit is complicated and involves many factors and exceptions. Parties that have suffered significant injuries or damages may wish to consult with a Missouri attorney to ensure that all claims and notices are filed within the time limits set forth by law.

Missouri Statute of Limitations for Civil Actions

Personal Injury and Negligence

5 years, generally for negligence. Many intentional torts are 2 years.

Wrongful Death

2 years.

Medical Malpractice

2 years. With the Discovery Rule a maximum of 10 years from the date of the malpractice that caused the injury.

Legal and Professional Malpractice

2 years. With the Discovery Rule a maximum of 10 years from the date of the malpractice that caused the injury.

Products Liability

4 years.

Assault and Battery

2 years.

False Imprisonment

2 year.


Written contracts 5 years, for those concerning payment of money or property – 10 years. Oral contracts 5 years. Employment agreements – 2 years. See Mo. Rev. Stat. § 516.140


10 years.

Personal Property Damages

5 years.


5 years.

Libel / Slander / Defamation

2 years from the date of publication (or the date when spoken).

Debt Collection Accounts

10 years, if in writing.

Collection of Rent

10 years.

Judgment Enforcement

10 years.

Liability of State and Municipalities

Yes, although claims are permitted typically for general negligence, including the operation of motor vehicles by municipal employees.

No-Fault Insurance


Consumer Fraud Complaints

Missouri Attorney General

Telephone: (816) 889-5000
Main Office: (573) 751-3321
Consumer Protection: (800) 392-8222

Please Take Note: The statute of limitations laws presented are strictly provided to you “as-is”. While we believe that the legal information is accurate as of the date created, we cannot and do not provide any guarantee, analysis or conclusions. The law may have changed since this article was published. The only way to ensure that the statute of limitations law you are reading is up to date and applies to your specific issue, is to have a legal consultation with an attorney licensed to practice law in the state of Missouri.

Michael M Wechsler, Esq.

Michael M. Wechsler is an experienced attorney, founder of TheLaw.com and of-counsel to Kaplan, Williams & Graffeo, LLC. He was also an SVP and chief Internet strategist at Zedge.net and legal consultant at Kroll Ontrack, a leading service e-discovery and computer forensics service provider.

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