Filing a personal injury claim can provide you with financial compensation for physical, mental, emotional, or reputational harm caused by someone else’s negligence. That means you can pay for any treatment or rehabilitation you might need and cover lost income.

After a painful or traumatic incident, the thought of facing a complex legal process can be intimidating – but don’t worry. With this clear and straightforward guide to filing a personal injury claim in Missouri, you’ll have all the information you need to start with confidence.

Once you’ve read the guide, we advise reaching out to a Missouri personal injury lawyer right away. As local personal injury lawyers with over 50 years of experience, partnering with Phalen Law is your best bet for building a successful case.

How long do I have to file a personal injury claim in Missouri?

Under Missouri’s statute of limitations, you typically have 5 years from the date of the incident to file a personal injury claim. If you wait longer before filing your claim, it could be dismissed and you could miss your opportunity for financial compensation.

However, there are two main cases in which this 5-year period can be extended:

  • Legal disability: If you were under the age of 21 or mentally incapacitated at the time of the incident, you are considered to have a legal disability. In this case, your 5-year claim period will begin from the date on which you turn 21 or are declared competent.
  • Defendant absent from state: If the party responsible for your injuries leaves the state before you make a claim, the period of their absence doesn’t count toward your 5-year limit. Instead, the limit begins once they return to the state.

On the other hand, you have less time to make a personal injury claim in Missouri if the responsible party is a state, county, or municipal government agency or employee. In such a case, you must file a written notice of your claim within just 90 days.

11 steps of a personal injury claim in Missouri

1) Get expert legal advice

As soon as you decide to file a claim, schedule an initial consultation with a local Missouri law firm that specializes in personal injury law. This is your opportunity to discuss the details of your case with an expert, who can advise you on whether your case is worth pursuing.

At Phalen Law, your initial consultation is completely free with no obligation to move forward if you change your mind. We recommend bringing any relevant police reports, medical records, photos, and videos with you, as this will help us thoroughly evaluate your case.

If your case is viable, we’ll offer you to sign an engagement agreement to hire us as your legal representation.

2) Investigation and evidence gathering

Once our contract is signed, we’ll begin a comprehensive investigation of your case. Your help and support at this stage are critical. The more you can tell us, the easier it’ll be for us to present a watertight case against the responsible party.

To begin, we’ll send a letter of representation to the defendants and their insurance companies informing them of your decision to make a claim. We’ll also ask them not to discard any evidence that could be relevant to the case.

Building on the information you’ve provided, we’ll speak to any witnesses, police officers, medical professionals, and other personnel to establish a complete picture of your incident. Our goal is to find out what happened when and where, as well as the events leading up to and following the incident.

3) Medical assessment

Part of our investigation also involves gathering evidence of your injuries. This may include:

  • Photos of visible injuries
  • An expert medical assessment
  • Specialist consultations to establish how long it could take for you to recover
  • An assessment of long-term harm

Be aware that more than one medical assessment may be required. The defendant might ask that their own medical expert assess your injuries. And since recovery progress can affect your claim, we may need a second examination before your case is finished to ensure our evidence is accurate.

4) Calculating your compensation amount

When we’ve finished gathering evidence of the incident and the harm you’ve suffered, we can determine how much compensation you deserve under Missouri personal injury law.

The dollar figure we present will take into account:

  • Your injuries, pain, and suffering
  • Any income you’ve lost
  • The cost of medical treatments and rehabilitation
  • Travel expenses to and from medical appointments related to the incident
  • Medical devices (wheelchairs, crutches, prosthetics, etc.)
  • Ongoing care
  • Damage to personal items 

In some cases, we may need additional evidence to add these to your claim amount. This could include photos of damaged items, pay slips, and receipts.

5) Negotiating a settlement

Taking your personal injury claim to court can be a long and stressful process. So we always do our best to settle your case out of court to save you hassle and ensure a quick payout.

We’ll send a demand letter to the defendant stating the reason for your claim, who was responsible, and how much compensation you seek. This is the starting point for negotiations.

From here, we could face one of 3 outcomes:

  • Acceptance: Ideally, the defendant will accept the demand without dispute and agree to pay. If they do, you could expect to receive a settlement within the next few weeks.
  • Negotiation: More often than not, the defendant will respond with a lower settlement offer. We’ll continue to exchange offers back and forth until we reach an appropriate figure that satisfies everyone.
  • Refusal: The defendant could reject your claim outright. In some cases, they might not respond at all.

If we’re unable to reach an agreeable settlement, this is the point at which we’ll file a lawsuit.

6) Filing a lawsuit

If negotiations are unsuccessful, we’ll draft and file a petition with one of 3 branches of the Missouri court system:

  • Missouri small claims court for damages less than $5,000
  • Associate Circuit Civil Court for damages of $5,000-$25,000
  • Circuit Civil Court for damages of more than $25,000

If your lawsuit is suitable for Civil Court, we’ll typically file in the county in which your injury occurred. A process server will then serve the defendant with the petition and summons.

7) Receiving an answer

Once the defendant receives the petition, their lawyer will present an answer. This could provoke the defendant to accept a previous settlement offer or to negotiate if they were initially silent. However, if they were unwilling to settle out of court, it’s likely they would respond with a denial.

8) Discovery

The court will issue a case management order specifying the trial date and pre-trial deadlines for your case.

Alongside this order, both parties will need to present any evidence and facts they’ve gathered that could be relevant to the case. This is called the ‘discovery’ stage. During discovery, both parties also need to disclose whether they intend to engage expert witnesses such as medical professionals.

9) Mediation

Before the case reaches trial, there’s still an opportunity to resolve the lawsuit out of court.

If both parties agree, we could involve an impartial mediator (usually a former judge or attorney) to help us reach an agreeable solution. This is where the majority of personal injury cases are settled.

10) Trial

If we’re unable to reach an out-of-court settlement, your personal injury case will eventually go to jury trial. This could take several days, or even several weeks, to conclude.

After a jury has been picked, each party will give an opening statement, call witnesses for testimony and cross-examination, and give a closing statement. Based on the information given, the jury will decide who should win the case and how much compensation should be awarded.

In extreme circumstances, it’s possible for either side to appeal the decision to an appellate court. However, they must show that the outcome was wrong or unjust due to a serious procedural mistake or an error in applying or interpreting the law.

Successfully appealing your case will extend your legal battle. But it may be necessary for you to receive the compensation you deserve.

11) Receiving your compensation

Whether you reach an out-of-court settlement or win in court, you’ll receive your personal injury compensation. You could receive this as a single lump-sum payment or through a settlement plan that provides smaller monthly payments over a fixed period.

Your compensation will help pay for the quality support and treatment you need to make the best possible recovery following your incident.

Make your personal injury claim with Phalen Law

For more than 50 years, Phalen Law has been a trusted choice for those who need a personal injury attorney in Pittsburg, Joplin, Nevada, Neosho, and other locations in Missouri. Now, we want to use our specialist expertise in personal injury law to help you get the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering.

Call us toll-free or fill out our Free Case Evaluation form to start your personal injury claim today.

Picture of William L. Phalen

William L. Phalen

For 30 years, Bill Phalen has been representing families and workers whose lives have been devastated by workplace injuries, reckless drivers and the negligence of others. When tragedy needlessly strikes – because of the irresponsible behavior of an employer, corporation or an insurance company – Bill Phalen is an advocate for the people, always representing David in the fight against Goliath. Bill’s strong convictions have led to successful cases at the Court of Appeals and Kansas Supreme Court.

21:34 06 Aug 23
It has been a long road of recovery, very thankful for all they have done on my behalf, Bill and Melissa thank you for having my back and helping me get through everthing i have gone through in the last few years.
TikTok BattleTikTok Battle
13:21 28 Mar 23
Very nice employees. William is an awesome attorney if it had an option for 10 stars I would give him 10. I highly recommend him to anyone in search of a great attorney
Dorothy RuebelDorothy Ruebel
05:32 25 May 21
I highly recommend Mr Phalen. He and his staff did a great job! I could not have won my case without them.
Luke EmmotLuke Emmot
14:42 18 Dec 20
I was hurt at work and Mr Phalen took my case on and worked on it for over a year and was able to successfully get me a settlement check for my injuries. Hire him if you’re ever injured on the job!
Kelli StringfieldKelli Stringfield
21:06 01 Jul 19
If you need an excellent attorney around the Pittsburg area Bill Phalen is the guy to go to. Very knowledgeable and pleasant and the office staff is great. I wouldn't go to anyone else!
Levi DeWittLevi DeWitt
16:14 01 Apr 19
I've worked here as a student intern since August, 2018 and I must say that this has been the most enjoyable job I've had to date. Mr. Phalen and the gals working here are a pleasure to be around and work with. They are patient with me every time I'm slow to get the hang of a new task, they are relaxed and easy going but know how to get the job done well. They each put extra effort into all of the work they do for each and every client. Several times they have come in early or stayed at the office late to make sure that they got every done that they needed to prepare someone's case.The people in this office have been a part of this community for a lifetime and working with them has helped me feel as if I was a part of this great community as well.
Thomas HelmThomas Helm
16:52 27 Mar 19
Very Proud to call him my Attorney, very friendly staff, that always keeps me updated on my case and one phone call away to answer any questions. I have been using him for many, many years. I can't Thank him enough for what he has done and still doing for me and my family. But Thank you. Would highly recommend William Phalen.