Kingsley v. McDonald – Court Greenlights Accident Lawsuit Despite Technical Error

Kingsley v. McDonald – Court Greenlights Accident Lawsuit Despite Technical Error

St. Louis car accident lawyers recognize the importance in Missouri accident cases of not only filing documentation in a timely manner, but also ensuring that it is filed correctly.

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The case of Kingsley v. McDonald is perhaps not the best example, but it does reveal court justices are willing to be reasonable on occasions where it’s clear plaintiffs took substantive efforts to meet those expectations.

According to court records, the plaintiff and defendant were involved in a wreck back in January 2008. In the course of that crash, the plaintiff sustained serious injuries. Only one person was in the other vehicle, though it was insured by a relative of the driver who lived at the same residence.

Less than one week prior to the expiration of the five-year statute of limitations on her personal injury claim, the plaintiff filed a claim naming only the insured, who was not driving the vehicle at the of the crash. The original claim makes no reference to his status as the vehicle owner (i.e., as one might in a claim of vicarious liability) and it makes no reference to the actual driver, who shares the same last name as the owner of the vehicle.

Instead, the complaint carries on as if the owner were the driver of the vehicle, claiming the owner failed to stop at the stop sign, failed to yield the right of way and through this negligence caused the crash and resulting injuries to the defendant.

The summons was issued on January 3, 2013 and returned on Feb. 2. While service was pending, the plaintiff realized the mistake and that the case had been captioned incorrectly. She filed an amended petition, substituting the correct defendant by January 19. The owner of the vehicle was never served with process.

However, technically, by that time, the statute of limitations had expired.

The insurance carrier located the first man, though a response wasn’t necessary by the time the error was discovered. The plaintiff ended up hiring a private investigator to track down the second, who was using an alias in Kansas. Once he was located, he filed a motion to dismiss, arguing the claim was time-barred by the statute of limitations, per 516.120 RSMo. The trial court granted that motion, and dismissed the case.

The plaintiff appealed, arguing her lawsuit against the driver was timely and that dismissal was unwarranted because under Supreme Court Rule 55.33(c), the amendment of her petition relates back to the date on which she originally filed her petition, which was within the original five-year period.

The appellate court agreed.

This is not to say she shouldn’t have kick-started the action sooner to have given herself a bit more leeway. Filing an action years earlier can help to avoid these issues altogether. Consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident can help you determine your best course of action.

Additional Resources:
Kingsley v. McDonald, April 29, 2014, In the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Western District

More Blog Entries:
St. Louis DUI Accident Prevention Focus of Alcohol Awareness Month, April 20, 2014, St. Louis Car Accident Lawyer Blog

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Ryan R. Cox & Associates, LLC

Ryan R. Cox & Associates, LLC is a litigation law firm that represents individuals and families in serious personal injury and wrongful death claims throughout Missouri. We help people who have been injured in all types of accidents—including car or truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, and much more. Whether your injury is something that can cause long-term issues like a brain injury or spinal cord injury, or it is something you’ll likely make a full recovery from, we are here to help.

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