How Long After an Accident Can You File a Personal Injury Claim?
Michigan auto accidents are governed by a complex set of laws different from those of many other states. Since Michigan is a no-fault state, many drivers end up confused about how their rights are protected in the aftermath of an accident.
Because of no-fault laws, there are many cases in which you can’t file a claim against the other driver. However, you can file car accident claims with your own insurance company to get compensation for your medical expenses, and you may be able to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver for pain and suffering and excess medical bills.
Consulting with a personal injury lawyer is essential to ensuring you understand your rights and options in the aftermath of an accident. The exact timelines and restrictions on your case mostly depend on whether you’re filing a claim with your insurance company or against the at-fault driver.
Like most legal matters, insurance claims are covered by a time limit known as a statute of limitations. This time limit makes it harder for car accident victims to get compensation if they have long-term injuries that aren’t noticed right away.
In Michigan, the statute of limitations on filing a claim with your auto insurance company is one year from the date of the accident. This means that if you discover or aggravate an injury three months after the accident, you only have nine months left to file an insurance claim.
It’s essential to immediately seek medical attention after an accident to increase the chances of catching chronic injuries before they worsen. Injuries like stress fractures and whiplash can go unnoticed at first until a secondary set of symptoms kicks in. Since no-fault insurance covers the emergency room bill after your accident, seek medical attention even if you only feel a little sore or have no pain at all.
Exceptions for Unpaid No-Fault Insurance Claims
If you have filed for the initial insurance claim with your insurance company, a second time limit kicks in. This additional time limit protects you in the rare case that you need to sue your insurance provider for failure to pay for your benefits and only applies if the provider was previously provided with notice of your injury.
In these cases, you have one year from the date of your unpaid injury-related medical expense to file an additional lawsuit over that specific expense. However, this is a separate lawsuit from the initial personal injury claim and may not apply to all cases.
Suing the Other Driver
Personal injury claim against at-fault drivers in Michigan must meet strict criteria. You need significant documentation of your injury’s severity and its effects on your quality of life and ability to work.
A personal injury attorney can assess whether your case meets these criteria. If you decide to file a case, you have three years from the date of the accident to file the lawsuit in court. The case can drag out much longer than the three-year mark without legal penalty, but the initial lawsuit must be filed by then.
Car accident injuries can include traumatic brain injuries, paraplegia, and quadriplegia, which have an obvious and permanent impact on your quality of life. However, even severe compound fractures can limit you from working or enjoying life the same way as before, especially if you work in manual labor.
Waiting until near the end of the three-year statutes of limitations can make it harder to gather lawsuit documentation. If you fear you are losing out on compensation for loss of work or excess medical benefits, you need to act now to make sure you’re ready to sue as soon as possible.
Getting Legal Advice
Each personal injury case is unique, and the exact set of laws and circumstances that apply to your case vary in the state of Michigan. To get a thorough understanding of the limitations for filing an insurance claim or car accident lawsuit, you need to consult with a specialized car accident attorney.
Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., specializes in personal injury claim and car accident cases and even has a nurse attorney on staff to help assess the merits of your case. We have recovered millions of dollars for victims of permanent injuries across Michigan.
We take our attorney-client relationships seriously. Whether you’re seeking to file a wrongful death case or suffering because of a permanent car accident injury, we’ll seek the compensation and justice you deserve. Call our team today at 1-888-MICH LAW (1-888-642-4529) to schedule your free consultation.