Do You Still Have Time to Call a Lawyer for Help With Your Car Crash Claim?
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
After sustaining injuries in a car crash, it’s essential to understand your legal rights and options. Even though Michigan is a no-fault state, many people don’t realize they can sue the other driver for additional damages in some circumstances.
Time is of the essence when filing a car accident claim. The sooner you contact an injury lawyer, the better position you will be in when it comes to negotiating compensation for your injuries and damages. Waiting too long means you miss important deadlines, and your case may be dismissed.
Talk to a lawyer as soon as possible following your car accident to learn more about your legal rights and the steps you can take to improve your claim.
What is the Deadline for Filing a Car Crash Lawsuit With My Insurance Company
Under Michigan’s no-fault law, you must go through your own PIP (Personal Insurance Protection) coverage for your injuries. However, the insurance company doesn’t need to pay you until they have reasonable proof of injury.
If you want coverage for your medical expenses, you must still show the extent of your injuries, along with your medical care, lost wages, and other losses. Once they get your documentation, they have 30 days to make the payment. If they don’t do this in 30 days, the payments are overdue.
If your PIP benefits are not paid on time, you may sue your auto insurance provider. You must file your claim within one year of the date you incurred the medical expense, lost wages, or replacement service. More specifically, the one-year statute of limitations begins with the date of the claim for benefits and ends with the date the insurer formally denies the claim.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents in Michigan?
In Michigan, you can sue the other party for damages within three years of the car accident date. This means you have three years from the date of an accident to file the paperwork. There are some exceptions to the statute of limitations:
The accident victim is under the age of 18
Until the age of 18, minors do not have a statute of limitations to file a lawsuit. Upon turning 18, they have one year to file their claim.
If the at-fault party leaves the state
When the liable party who caused the injury leaves Michigan before you can sue and is gone for more than two months, it will not count as time in your lawsuit. The statute of limitations begins as soon as the at-fault party returns to the state.
What if You Miss the Deadline to File a Claim
If more than three years pass after the car accident, the other party may file a motion to dismiss and inform the court of their decision. You lose your right to seek compensation for your injuries, regardless of whether you have minor injuries or medical bills from severe injuries. Likewise, if you have a claim against your auto insurance company, you will lose your right to sue and collect overdue PIP benefits.
A car accident attorney can help you determine whether your accident and its aftermath are within the statute of limitations unless one of the exceptions applies to your situation.
What Makes Some Aspects of Your Claim Time-Sensitive
Besides meeting the statute of limitations deadline, there are some aspects of your case that require immediate attention because they are time-sensitive. An attorney can assess your case and guide you on how to handle time-sensitive parts of your personal injury claim.
Evidence collection is a time-sensitive process
After an accident, you need a lot of evidence to support your claim in court. Among the types of evidence you can collect to support your case are:
- A police report of your accident
- Contact and insurance information from the other driver
- Contact information of witnesses to your accident
- Video and pictures of the property damage to your vehicle
- Photographic evidence of the scene of the accident like debris and skidmarks
- Medical bills from treatment for your car accident injuries
- Journal of your prescriptions, lab tests, and other additional medical treatments
- Pay stubs, W-2s, and other work documents if you took time off from work to recover from your injuries
- Your car’s repair receipts and list of improvements shortly before the accident
Getting witness testimonies and recording critical information
Insurance adjusters may also ask you if there were other witnesses to your accident to get a complete picture of what happened. Since witnesses were on the scene at the accident, they can give a neutral statement on the events.
Credible witnesses need to have consistent stories that align with the other witnesses’ statements and accurate memories of the accident. Determining credibility depends on the witness’s background and attitude regarding the vehicle accident:
- Their attention at the time of the accident, such as walking their children to school
- Actual observation or hearing of the accident
- The witness’ demeanor and attitude about your case
- Interest in the case outcome, if any
- Whether they have a criminal record
Various perspectives and conclusions about the accident can also cause concerns about a witness’ credibility. A witness may state that a traffic light was yellow, and another may recall that the light was red when the accident happened. You can ask your lawyer if the witnesses’ testimonies are credible enough for your claim. If you go to trial over your car accident case, talk to your lawyer about having all the witnesses testify in court.
Your PIP coverage may not cover all your expenses
If your PIP insurance policy has a cap of $250,000, it may surprise you to find that you have medical bills and other losses that exceed it. When your injury meets Michigan’s threshold injury of serious impairment of body function, you may file a claim against the at-fault driver to cover the rest of your losses. Diagnostic testing and notes from your doctor must confirm that your injury meets the threshold injury requirements:
- Symptoms or conditions of an injury are noticeable to someone other than the injured individual
- The injury affects an important function of the injured person
- It also affects the injured person’s ability to live their normal lives
To qualify for the threshold, an impairment doesn’t need to last for any specified amount of time. Your doctor also considers your ability to function in daily life before and after the injury. If you meet the injury threshold, you may pursue compensation for pain and suffering damages, excess medical bills, partial or total disability, and other losses.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.