St. Louis Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Lawyer Explains the Statute of Limitations and How Long You Have to File a Claim
Each Missouri nursing home abuse and neglect claim has two main components to consider. The first is the substantive component, or the merits of the claim. The second is the procedural component, or how a claim properly gets to the courthouse. The statute of limitations is one of the most important procedural components to satisfy. In fact, even a “perfect” nursing home abuse and neglect claim with very high damages and guaranteed liability will likely be dismissed if a resident or family fails to satisfy the statute of limitations period. If the statute of limitations period is missed, it is unlikely the court would even consider the merits of the case.
What is the Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations is essentially a time limit or deadline on how long a person or entity has to start an action. Every state has statute of limitations periods for different types of claims, including crimes, personal injury cases, contract disputes, and other actions. The purpose of the statute of limitations period is to prevent stale claims. This is because as time goes on memories fade, relevant evidence may be disposed, and parties may become ill or pass away. This is also true in nursing home matters. These factors can result in an unfair advantage to one party, which is not the point of a legal claim which aims to provide a level, fair playing field.
If a party files a claim outside of the statute of limitations period, generally the case will be dismissed and forever barred. There are some rare exceptions to this rule, most in equity (or based on fairness), but they should not be relied on. The statute of limitations is a very important barrier.
What is the Time Limit to File a Missouri Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Case?
Nursing home abuse and neglect cases are tricky because there are several possible statute of limitation periods which may apply. This is because injuries to a resident in a nursing home may be the result of 1) intentional harm, 2) negligent harm, 3) medical malpractice, or 4) any type of conduct causing wrongful death. It is important that a resident file an action within the correct time limit, and best practice would be to always file a claim within the shortest time period to avoid a possible challenge.
The applicable time limits to file a Missouri nursing home abuse, neglect, or negligence claim are the following:
- Medical malpractice – If a resident suffers injuries from neglect in a nursing home and survives, she may have a medical malpractice claim against the facility and any employees who were involved. A medical malpractice claim must be filed within two years from the date when the injury was discovered or reasonably should have been discovered. If the individual is suffering from dementia and is not able to bring a case for herself, her power of attorney or guardian can bring the claim on her behalf.
- Wrongful Death – Where a resident has been wrongfully killed due to nursing home abuse, neglect, or negligence, there is a three year statute of limitations to file a wrongful death case. In Section 537.080 of the Missouri statutes, the legislature has identified who is eligible to bring a wrongful death lawsuit by identifying classes of claimants. The first class of wrongful death claimants are the parents, spouse and children (or lineal descendants of any children who pre-deceased the decedent). It there is even one person in this first class of claimants, then the analysis stops there and the right to bring a lawsuit belongs to those individuals. If the decedent’s parents are deceased and was never married and had no children, then one looks to the second class of wrongful death claimants which is the decedent’s siblings or their descendants
Injured in a Missouri Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Case? Do Not Wait!
The statute of limitations is an incredibly important component to your case. If you fail to file an action within the designated deadline, your claim will likely be dismissed without any hearing on the merits. This means you need to hire an experienced St. Louis nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer like our lawyer at the Terry Law Firm to ensure your rights to compensation are protected. We have over 18 years of experienced representing residents and their families against abusive, neglectful, and negligent nursing homes throughout Missouri. Call to schedule a FREE consultation by dialing (314) 334-1441.