Missouri Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

This page looks at Missouri medical malpractice lawsuits.  Our malpractice lawyers focus on settlement amounts and jury payouts in these cases and look at the law governing medical malpractice lawsuits in Missouri. 

Like all states, Missouri has its own unique set of laws regarding healthcare professionals’ liability and injured patients’ right to sue them for malpractice.

Anyone considering a medical malpractice case in Missouri needs to understand certain aspects of the applicable laws because they can have a big impact on whether you have the right to sue and how much your case could be worth.

The three Missouri laws that are most significant in malpractice cases are (1) the statute of limitations for malpractice claims, (2) the “certificate of merit” requirement, and (3) the rules on shared fault.


Missouri Hospital Malpractice Verdicts and Settlements

Below are example settlement amounts and jury payouts in medical malpractice lawsuits in Missouri: 

  • $8,200,000 Verdict (Missouri 2024): A woman suffered severe medical complications after a doctor delayed surgical intervention, resulting in the loss of a significant portion of her bowels. The plaintiff experienced a critical delay in receiving surgery for mesenteric ischemia, a life-threatening condition, which led to her requiring surgery to remove nearly six feet of dead bowel. She spent an extended period in the hospital and now requires lifetime total parenteral nutrition. A Clay County jury found the attending doctor and his employer fully liable, marking the largest medical malpractice award against the healthcare provider involved. The award breakdown included compensation for past and future medical and noneconomic damages (the cap will reduce those damages). 
  • $10,020,000 Verdict (Missouri 2024): A woman faced severe medical complications following a C-section at Mercy Hospital. During the surgery, a uterine incision was extended, and despite tests indicating no bladder injury, the plaintiff later developed significant health issues. She returned to the hospital days later with symptoms that led to the diagnosis of a stitched left ureter, causing obstruction. Multiple treatments, including a ureteral reimplantation, failed to correct the damage fully, leading to lifelong complications such as voiding dysfunction and recurrent infections. The plaintiff now requires intermittent self-catheterization. The verdict includes past and future economic and noneconomic damages, following a retrial that originally ended in a hung jury.
  • $1,000,000 Verdict (Missouri 2023): The plaintiff claimed she underwent surgeries performed at defendant Mercy Clinic East Communities, planned as a right-sided microdiscectomy at T7-T8 to treat her thoracic spinal stenosis. According to the plaintiff, the initial procedure was performed on the wrong side of her body and at the wrong level. The defendant admitted its surgeon initially operated on the wrong area of the plaintiff’s spine and operated on two levels the next day rather than the intended one, but denied negligence.
  • $5,008,000 Verdict (Missouri 2022): 58-year-old male patient went to the defendant hospital with complaints of post-surgical swelling and soreness died due to bilateral pulmonary emboli, which allegedly migrated from a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) which had developed in his right leg. The lawsuit alleged that the hospital failed to order and perform a duplex ultrasound of the decedent’s right lower extremity on an emergent basis, failed to a DVT of his right leg and failed to recognize the decedent’s risk factors for developing dvt and pulmonary embolism.
  • $550,000 Settlement (Missouri 2021): Female patient died after receiving medical care and services at the VA St. Louis Healthcare System in the City of St. Louis, operated by defendant United States of America. The plaintiff alleged that the decedent died as a result of injuries sustained in an improperly performed liver biopsy at the defendant’s facility. The defendant denied liability but agreed to a settlement of $550,000.
  • $18,254,033 Verdict (Missouri 2020): A 3-year-old girl suffered an E. coli infection. Over four days, she visited a St. Louis hospital’s emergency room three times. The hospital staff discharged her after the first two visits. They finally admitted her on the third visit. Two days into the girl’s hospitalization, she suffered seizures and a stroke. It was later revealed that she developed Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome. Because of this, the girl suffered permanent kidney damage. She now required lifelong dialysis. Her family alleged that the hospital staff’s failure to timely diagnose an E. coli infection caused her permanent injuries. The hospital admitted that the girl had an E. coli infection during her ER visits. However, they disputed whether its staff acted negligently.  In hindsight, they should have offered a better malpractice settlement because the jury found a clear failure to diagnose.  A St. Louis jury awarded the family $18,254,033.
  • $869,781 Verdict (Missouri 2018): A man underwent a prostate resection at a Sikeston Hospital. The procedure involved a bladder neck incision and a Foley catheter placement. After the surgery, he suffered multi-organ failure. The man was brought to another hospital. Its staff discovered that the catheter was placed outside the bladder. The man died from his injuries. His family alleged that the hospital staff’s negligence caused his death. They claimed they performed an unnecessary bladder neck incision, perforated the bladder, and wrongly placed the catheter. The hospital denied liability, arguing that the man’s comorbidities caused his death. A Scott County jury awarded $869,781.
  • $1,358,712 Verdict (Missouri 2018): A 24-year-old pregnant woman was admitted to a St. Louis-area hospital. She was suffering from abdominal cramps, nausea, and right flank pain. The woman underwent an ultrasound. It revealed kidney stones. Her vital signs also showed an elevated temperature and heart rate. A nurse informed a physician of the woman’s vitals. However, the physician did not examine her. The woman was subsequently discharged. The following day, she presented to another hospital. Its staff treated the woman for sepsis. She then underwent a urethral stent placement. During the procedure, the woman suffered a spontaneous abortion. She alleged that the initial hospital’s negligence caused her baby’s death. She claimed its staff prematurely discharged her, failed to timely diagnose and treat a urinary tract infection, and failed to timely address her vitals. A St. Louis County jury awarded $1,358,712.
  • $14,245,545 Verdict (Missouri 2017): A man presented to an emergency room. He was suffering from significant abdominal pain. He came under a D.O.’s care. The man underwent a CT scan. It revealed hepatic gas. The radiologist recommended an ultrasound. The D.O. then consulted another physician, who recommended an outpatient ultrasound. As a result, the man was discharged without undergoing an ultrasound. Several days later, he returned with continuing pain. The man was diagnosed with mesenteric ischemia. He developed short bowel syndrome. The man required IV fluids, parenteral nutrition, and medications. He also underwent an end jejunostomy, a superior mesenteric artery bypass graft, and a mesenteric thrombectomy. Following the procedures, the man developed sepsis, kidney failure, and a non-healing abdominal wound. He alleged that the hospital staff’s negligence caused these permanent injuries. The man claimed they failed to timely perform an ultrasound, failed to timely perform additional imaging, and prematurely discharged him. The hospital denied liability, arguing comparative negligence. A Franklin County jury found the hospital and D.O. 65 percent negligent, the consulted physician 25 percent negligent, and the man 10 percent negligent. They awarded a $14,245,545 verdict.
  • $7,564,660 Verdict (Missouri 2017): A woman suffered severe back pain. The hospital admitted her. Its staff treated the woman’s back pain. They then placed an antecubital IV on her left arm. The following day, the hospital staff observed bleeding around the IV site. The woman’s daughter requested that they change the site and replace the IV. A nurse ignored the request. She partially pulled the IV out, moved it around, and pushed it back in. The woman was subsequently discharged. She returned the following day. The woman was diagnosed with encephalopathy, sepsis, respiratory failure, and kidney failure. She also developed an antecubital fossa thrombosis and MRSA. The woman died from her injuries. Her family alleged that the hospital staff’s negligence caused her death. They claimed they failed to replace the IV and its location, timely diagnose a thrombus, and recognize the issues with the IV. The hospital denied liability. A Buchanan County jury awarded $7,564,660.

If you are looking for the average medical malpractice settlmement in Missouri, we do not have an exact figure for you. But we estimate the average settlement is approximately $250,000.  The cap on malpractice pain and suffering damages in Missouri really has an impact on cases that do not have significant economic damages. 

Missouri Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations

RS Mo. § 516.105.1 sets a time limit, known as a statute of limitations, for medical malpractice and healthcare-related claims. This law says that medical malpractice claims in Missouri must be filed within two years from when the problem or mistake occurred or when the “cause of action accrues.” If the case is not filed before this deadline expires the plaintiff will be barred from filing a lawsuit.

Bizarrely, Missouri courts have consistently chosen not to implement a discovery rule exception to Mo. Rev. Stat. § 516.105 in Missouri medical malpractice cases.  Consequently, individuals who do not identify instances of medical malpractice within the existing exceptions before the expiration of the two-year statute of limitations are left without a viable legal remedy. 

Thsi leaves some plaintiffs hurt by medical malpractice without an effective means of redress. Is this unfair?  Of course. The Missouri Court of Appeals does not disagree but says it is the job of the legislature to effectuate a change in the law.  

Still, there are some notable exceptions that can extend the Missouri 2-year statute of limitations period in medical malpractice cases:

  • If the issue involves a foreign object negligently left inside a patient’s body, the lawsuit must be filed within two years from the date when the patient discovered or should have discovered this negligence.
  • If the complaint relates to the healthcare provider’s failure to inform the patient about the results of medical tests, the lawsuit must be filed within two years from the date of discovering this failure or when the patient should have discovered it. But, this rule doesn’t apply to failures to inform about test results that occurred more than two years before August 28, 1999.
  • If the person filing the lawsuit is a minor (under eighteen years old), they have until their twentieth birthday to bring such an action.
  • The statute of limitations clock does not start running until a patient’s treatment by a physician or surgeon has ended, provided that the treatment is ongoing and of a nature that places a duty on the healthcare provider to continue care and treatment necessary for the patient’s recovery. This exception exists to prevent patients, who are already facing a relatively short statute of limitations imposed by law, from having to make an impossible choice between interrupting their treatment by initiating a lawsuit against their caregiver or forfeiting a valid legal claim.
  • Mo. Rev. Stat. § 516.230 grants plaintiffs the right to refile a lawsuit within one year after a nonsuit, as long as the original lawsuit was filed within the time limits set by Mo. Rev. Stat. §§ 516.010 to 516.370. Specifically, this statute permits plaintiffs to restart a medical malpractice claim within one year if the initial claim was dismissed but had been filed within the appropriate timeframe.

However, regardless of these exceptions, no lawsuit can be initiated more than ten years after the date of the alleged malpractice or two years after a minor’s eighteenth birthday, whichever comes later.  But this does extend the statute of limitations on the minor’s claim in birth injury lawsuits in Missouri.

A few other related laws to keep in mind:

  • Section 516.230 allows someone who had to drop their case (a nonsuit) to start a new one within a year, as long as they initially filed it within the time limits in sections 516.010 to 516.370. This means you can re-file a dismissed medical malpractice case within a year of the dismissal if you originally filed it on time.
  • Section 516.105.2 stipulates that if a plaintiff serves a defendant after the statute of limitations has expired, they must complete the service within 180 days from the date of filing the petition.

Expert Witness Requirements in Missouri Malpractice Cases

To make a claim of medical malpractice, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant failed to meet the required medical standard of care, that the defendant’s acts or omissions were performed negligently, and that these acts or omissions caused the plaintiff’s injuries. 

In Missouri, as in every state, expert witnesses play a crucial role in meeting that burden in a medical malpractice lawsuit. Experts provide specialized knowledge and opinions regarding the standard of care, the defendant healthcare provider’s alleged breach of that standard, and whether this breach caused harm to the plaintiff.

Missouri’s Requirement for an Affidavit of Merit

In Missouri, before a medical malpractice lawsuit can proceed, the plaintiff is required to file an affidavit of merit, which serves as a preliminary screening of the case’s merit. This affidavit must be provided by a qualified healthcare provider who attests that there are reasonable grounds to believe that malpractice occurred.

So if you want to sue a doctor in Missouri, you or your malpractice lawyer must first get a written opinion from another healthcare provider. This opinion should say that the provider you want to sue didn’t give the right care, and this caused your injuries or the person’s death you’re suing for.  The healthcare provider giving this opinion must be qualified, which means they have a license to practice medicine in this state or another state, and they should have experience in the same kind of healthcare as the one you want to sue.

You must file this written opinion with the court within 90 days after you start your lawsuit. If you need more time, you can ask the court for an extra 90 days.

Within 180 days after you start your lawsuit, any of the healthcare providers you’re suing can ask the court to review the written opinion privately. If the court thinks the opinion doesn’t follow the rules, they’ll have a hearing within 30 days to decide whether to allow you to continue your claim.

Missouri Cap on Non-Economic Damages

Missouri has a special law that imposes a maximum cap or limit on the amount of money that a plaintiff can be awarded in medical malpractice cases for non-economic damages (i.e., pain and suffering damages). RS Mo. § 538.210 The amount of the cap is currently around $455,000, but if the case involve “catastrophic personal injury” or death, the cap increases to around $790,000.  

It is important to note that this cap only applies to pain and suffering damages. There is no cap on the amount of economic damages that a medical malpractice plaintiff can be awarded in Missouri.  Economic damages include things like lost income and past and future medical expenses. The table below shows the current cap amounts by year for non-economic damages in Missouri malpractice cases:



Catastrophic Cap



















Contact Us About Missouri Medical Malpractice

If you have a potential medical malpractice case in Missouri, call our attorneys today at 800-553-8082 for a free consultation on contact us online.

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