What is a "Statute of Limitations"? 

A statute of limitations is a law creates a deadline by which you need to file a claim in court. If you fail to file your claim by that deadline, and the statute expires or runs out, then your claim is barred. This means you can't file a lawsuit, and if you do, your case will be dismissed.  The reason is your right to recover damages under the law is no longer valid because you did not pursue your claim in time. 

If your claim is barred by the statute of limitations, you not only are prohibited from pursuing your case in court, but also an insurance company will not pay you anything in terms of a settlement.  

The penalty for not pursuing your case in a prompt manner and filing a lawsuit on time is very harsh. That's why it's critical to know what deadline, or what statute of limitations, applies in you case.  If it is a wrongful death claim, you should consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney well before that deadline.  Our Kansas City wrongful death attorney would be happy to discuss your case, and our law firm offers free, no obligation consultations so call today: 816-203-0143.

What Statute of Limitations Applies to Wrongful Death Cases?

This is not as simple as you may think for several reasons.  First, the statute of limitations changes based what state you are in and the law that applies to your case.  Second, there are exceptions and other variables that may impact how a statute of limitations is either applied or calculated in a particular set of circumstances.  Third, these laws change from time to time.  That’s right – the legislature sometimes amend or change these deadlines, so they may be shortened in the future.

deadline to file wrongful death case in kansas missouriFor this reason, it’s highly recommended that you consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney who is licensed in the state where the wrongful death occurred. 

Our Kansas City wrongful death attorney provides free, no-obligation consultations to answer your questions and can help you understand what statute of limitations may apply to your particular case and also guide you on what steps you should take next. 

Despite the many variables that can impact the statute of limitations, below are general statements about the statute of limitations in wrongful death cases in Kansas and Missouri.  These are the deadlines that exist at the time of this article, but as explained above, these deadlines are subject to change and may be shorter depending on the specific circumstances in your case.

Kansas Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations

Under the laws of Kansas, you generally have 2 years to bring a wrongful death lawsuit.  This deadline usually runs from the date of the deceased person’s death.  

Since a wrongful death action arises from the rights of the decedent, if the statute of limitations expires on the decedent’s original cause of action before his or her death, a surviving heir cannot bring a wrongful death claim after their death. For example, if a person is injured and dies from the condition more than three years after the date of injury, a surviving heir will likely have not right to assert a wrongful death claim because the underlying injury claim is time-barred.

Missouri Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations

In Missouri, the statute of limitations is different. Missouri law currently requires that a wrongful death claim be filed within 3 years. However, as mentioned earlier, there are exceptions that can apply in certain cases, and the statute of limitations can be even shorter.  

For instance, in Missouri, if an injury or wrongful death claim arises from medical malpractice (such as a botched surgery or nursing home abuse), a shorter statute of limitations applies, which is only 2 years.  

Simple Rule: Don’t Wait

You do not want to delay until any time near the statute of limitations to file your case. Often times, it takes significant time and effort to fully investigate a potential wrongful death claim prior to filing a lawsuit. In other words, if you have questions about a potential case, it is important to contact a Kansas City wrongful death attorney early enough in the process to avoid rushing into litigation or creating any risk that the statute of limitations will run out.

Another reason is because, even after filing a lawsuit, you and your attorney may find out new facts or information that requires a change or addition to your lawsuit. For example, if you need to file an amended lawsuit to add a new party or claim, you may be barred from doing so if the statute of limitations has expired after the case is on file.  

As a result, the statute of limitations can still bar you from asserting a new claim against that new party, even though your original case was filed on time. This is just another reason why you should not wait to talk to an experienced personal injury attorney who can make sure to get your case on file as soon as possible.  You should also get a free consultation with an attorney as soon as possible.  

At our Kansas City wrongful death law firm, we pursue cases quickly and do not want to wait anywhere near the statute of limitations.  


Call Our Kansas City Wrongful Death Lawyer

If you are grieving due to the loss of a loved one, and have questions about what should have been done differently to prevent their death, please contact us. There is no consultation fee, and we want to help you get answers and understand that help may be available.  We do not want you second-guessing yourself later about what you should have done to learn the truth about what happened or to hold the at-fault parties responsible.

Our Kansas City wrongful death law firm would be happy to answer any questions you may have and provide you with a free, no obligation consultation about your claim. You can speak with a member of our legal team by calling (816) 203-0143 or by filling out the form below.  For all the reasons above, please do not wait and contact us today.


Kevin J. McManus
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Kevin McManus is an accident injury and disability lawyer in Kansas City, MO, and Overland Park, KS