When I hear the concerns of people in Missouri, I’ll admit that “lengthy statutes of limitations” doesn’t usually top their lists. However, what many don’t realize is that little things like this have a major impact on things that are important to them, like wasted tax dollars and delayed justice. By shortening the window for claims to be filed, we can ensure that the state’s resources are being used efficiently and that our judicial system is working properly for all.
This is why I have proposed SB 631. This legislation will reign in the needlessly long timeframes currently allowed in our statutes of limitations for certain areas like personal injury — putting us back on par with the vast majority of states. It will help businesses feel more comfortable doing business here in Missouri and will protect workers from frivolous lawsuits that stretch on for years without results. It will enhance Missouri’s national image without compromising on our core values or bending to special interests. This bill is about expediting justice and ensuring evidence isn’t lost in the search for truth.
While I applaud earlier officials for having the foresight of enacting statutes of limitations related to personal injury to begin with, times have drastically changed. When these laws were written in 1939, things were different than they are now. It is time to update our laws that are over 80 years old to match our current situation. We must close loopholes that allow people to manipulate the law. We must reform some of our statutes of limitations.
I am calling upon my fellow legislators to recognize the long-term effects of this legislation: fewer expensive lawsuits funded by the taxpayer, more certainty in witness testimony and evidence, and greater protection in the workplace for both employees and employers. While we may disagree on hot-button issues across party lines, one thing we should all agree on is that saving tax dollars while ensuring due process is a win for all Missourians. Let’s stop being the state known for being a “judicial hellhole” and instead be known as the state that has some of the most up-to-date methods of ensuring justice.
Sen. Dan Hegeman is a Republican who represents SD 12 in northwest Missouri. He is the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.