Statute of Limitations in Missouri and Illinois

By Chris Dixon


The statute of limitations is an important question asked by injury victims and their families. “How long do I have to sue for a wrongful death?” “What’s the deadline for opening a worker’s compensation claim?” “If I was in a car accident, do I need to file a claim right away or do I have some leeway?”

In this section of the FAQ, we’re going to go over the statute of limitations in Illinois and Missouri, the two main areas we serve. Feel free to contact the Dixon Injury Firm if you have any additional questions about your claim. We also provide free personal injury case consultations.

What Does “Statute of Limitations” Mean?

In the legal sense, each state sets its own statutes of limitations on different types of crimes or cases. The statute of limitations is how long you have to begin legal proceedings. If, for example, a certain state says you aren’t able to bring a car accident claim to court after two years, then you can’t. There’s a number of reasons for statutes of limitations, such as evidence being lost, witness testimonies changing, and reasonable justice. If you were in an accident six years ago and on a whim decide to sue the business you slipped and fell in for ongoing medical treatment or rehabilitation, you’d have a difficult time winning over a jury. Why? Because you didn’t show prudence or it appears as if you weren’t interested in a settlement until after the fact.

Missouri Statute of Limitations

The Missouri Statute of Limitations is set in place for both formal criminal charges and civil complaints. The purpose is, as mentioned, to protect the integrity of evidence and to prevent victims from indefinitely threatening lawsuits against defendants (companies, people, or insurers).

In Missouri, the statutes of limitation are two years for defamation and personal injury claims. Debt- and fraud-related claims are 10 years, while criminal acts such as murder don’t have a time limit. Misdemeanors have a one-year time limit. Civil Procedure and Limitations Code 516.140 states that the two-year limit applies to assault, false imprisonment, unpaid wages, and other claims of that nature.

Illinois Statute of Limitations

Similar to Missouri, the Illinois statutes of limitations is a loose definition of how long a victim has to pursue legal action. Civil lawsuits don’t start counting down when an accident, necessarily, occurs. If you’re a minor, mentally incapacitated, or there’s another reason to “pause” your case, the time limits may increase if they’re justifiable.

Illinois’ statutes of limitations are as straightforward as Missouri’s. Here’s the rundown:

  • Injury to a Person: 2 years
  • Libel or Slander: 1 year
  • Fraud: 2-5 years
  • Injury to Property: 5 years
  • Medical Malpractice: 2-4 years
  • Legal Malpractice: 6 years
  • Contracts: 10 years
  • Debt: 10 years

Why Are “Statutes of Limitations” Important?

The thing to keep in mind is that these time limits are set in place for a reason. If you have a personal injury claim, for example, statutes and exceptions exist so that the alleged defendant doesn’t dread a lawsuit coming down years later. All cases should be handled as soon as possible with insurance companies or, if a claim escalates, in court. The reasoning behind the differences in how long you have to pursue legal action is based on the type of injury. If you slander someone, for example, it makes sense that a case would be irrelevant due to poor testimony after a year. A broken contract, on the other hand, has a decade-long lifespan.

The lawyers at the Dixon Injury Firm fight to protect the rights of Missouri and Illinois residents, with the goal of providing maximum and fair reimbursement for injury claims. You can contact us 24/7 for more information about statutes of limitations, a free case review, and the statute of limitation for civil cases in Missouri and Illinois. Next in this FAQ, we’re going to discuss how liability is established in personal injury and vehicle-related cases.

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