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Ask a Michigan Personal Injury Lawyer: When Should I File My Personal Injury Case?

Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran

Timing plays a crucial role in the success of a personal injury claim in Michigan. Whether it involves a car accident, dog bite, or slip and fall, knowing the specific statutes of limitations and insurance claim deadlines can affect the resolution of your case.

Delaying could mean forfeiting your right to compensation. Additionally, a delay might lead to evidence being lost or damaged, making it more challenging to secure a fair settlement.

After your car accident, focusing on recovery is natural and crucial. It’s also important to remember the potential need to file a personal injury claim with an insurance company or in court.

A Michigan personal injury attorney can evaluate your situation and provide valuable insight and support as you navigate your case, ensuring you’re prepared for the next steps.

What is the Statute of Limitations on Personal Injury Claims in Michigan?

A key factor in a personal injury case is the statute of limitations, which establishes the deadline for filing a lawsuit after an injury has occurred. In Michigan, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is typically three years from the date of the injury.

This chart breaks down the types of personal injury cases and their statutes of limitations:

Type of Personal Injury Case Time Limit to File Examples Additional Requirements
General Personal Injury 3 years from the date of injury Dog bites, premises liability, slip and fall accident, burn injury, brain injury, spinal cord injury None
Medical malpractice 2 years from the date of injury Birth injury, ER malpractice, pharmacy negligence, physician & nursing malpractice, dental malpractice, nursing home abuse File a Notice of Claim within 182 days
Vehicle Accidents 3 years from the date of injury Auto accident, bus accident, truck accident, motorcycle accident, boat injury, recreational injury None
Product Liability 3 years from the date of injury Hernia mesh lawsuits, talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits None

Failing to meet the statute of limitations deadline could lead to your case being dismissed and the loss of your right to claim compensation for your injuries. Working with a qualified personal injury attorney can help you adhere to these crucial deadlines.

What About Insurance Claims Deadlines?

Besides the statute of limitations, it’s also important to keep track of deadlines set by insurance companies. Following an accident, depending on the situation, you might need to file a claim with either the at-fault party’s insurance company or your own insurer.

Insurance policies typically specify certain periods for filing claims. Not adhering to these timeframes can lead to your claim being denied. For example, you must file your claim within one year to receive personal injury protection benefits.

To prevent any complications with insurance, reporting the accident and starting the claims process promptly is advisable. Our attorneys can assist in collecting evidence for your claim and ensure all required paperwork is submitted within the appropriate deadlines.

Are There Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations?

The statute of limitations for personal injury cases are generally strict, but there are several notable exceptions. These exceptions can vary based on specific circumstances and may include scenarios such as:

  • Delayed discovery. In some cases, the statute of limitations may be extended if the injury or its cause was not immediately apparent and was only discovered later. Generally, the claim should be filed within 6 months from the date of discovery.
    For instance, if a surgical tool is inadvertently left inside your body during an operation, the timeframe to initiate a lawsuit begins when you become aware of the tool’s presence rather than the date of the surgery.
  • Minors under 18. If the injured party is a minor, the statute of limitations often doesn’t begin until they reach the age of majority. For individuals who were minors at the time of their injury, the statute of limitations is extended by one year. For example, if a 15-year-old sustains an injury in a bicycle accident, they have until one year after their 18th birthday to file a lawsuit.
  • Incapacitated persons. When a person is incapacitated at the time of their injury, like being in a coma after an accident, the statute of limitations is extended. In such cases, they have one year from the date they regain the ability to comprehend their situation and take legal action to file a lawsuit.
  • Absence of the defendant: In instances where the defendant is unavailable or has left the state, the statute of limitations might be put on hold, or tolled, until they return or are located. This allows for a fair legal process even when the defendant’s absence would otherwise hinder the plaintiff’s ability to file a lawsuit within the standard timeframes.

What is Maximum Medical Improvement?

The concept of Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) plays a role in the timing of personal injury cases. MMI is reached when your condition has stabilized to the extent that no further improvement is anticipated, even with continued medical care.
Understanding MMI is crucial for accurately evaluating the full impact of your injury.

Waiting until the MMI stage allows us to leverage the MMI diagnosis in negotiations for a settlement. This approach aims to cover not only your existing medical expenses and lost wages but also to secure compensation for future therapy, any necessary job modifications, or retraining, especially if your injury restricts your capacity to continue in your current role.

Filing your claim before reaching MMI could result in not receiving the full compensation you deserve. Therefore, it’s important to wait until this diagnosis is confirmed to ensure your personal injury claim accurately reflects the extent of your entitlements.

Eileen Kroll, as a partner attorney and a registered nurse, brings a unique skill set to these situations. With her medical expertise and legal acumen, she provides a comprehensive understanding of the implications of MMI on your case. She can use this knowledge to accurately assess the full extent of injuries and advocate for a settlement that reflects your current and future expenses.

Michigan Personal Injury Lawyer

What are the Benefits of Filing Your Personal Injury Claim Early?

Filing your personal injury claim as soon as possible after the accident ensures a timely start to your case. This can help you see the following benefits:

  • Evidence preservation. Acting quickly ensures important evidence like surveillance footage, witness statements, and physical evidence at the scene is preserved. As time passes, these can become harder to obtain or less reliable.
  • Faster resolution. Filing early allows your legal team to begin the negotiation process sooner. This can lead to a quicker settlement and faster access to awarded compensation.
  • Reduce financial strain. An earlier filing can lead to an earlier settlement, providing financial relief for medical expenses and lost income due to your inability to work post-accident.
  • Minimize disputes over injury causation. Delaying your claim gives the other party more room to argue that your injuries were not caused by the accident. Prompt filing helps establish a clear connection between the incident and your injuries.
  • Emotional closure. Resolving your case sooner can minimize emotional distress and allow you to focus on recovery and move forward from the incident.

Why You Should Work With an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

Navigating the complexities of personal injury law and determining the optimal timing for filing your claim can be overwhelming, especially when dealing with the physical and emotional challenges of an injury.

A personal injury attorney from Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. can guide you through the process, offering the following:

  • Legal expertise. Our attorneys know Michigan’s personal injury laws and ensure your case is filed accurately and timely, adhering to the statute of limitations.
  • Investigative skills. We bring extensive resources and experience to conduct in-depth investigations, gather critical evidence, and build a compelling case to support your claim, particularly in complex situations.
  • Negotiation and settlement. Our attorneys are skilled at negotiating with insurance companies and opposing parties, striving for a fair settlement, and safeguarding your rights throughout the claims process.
  • Trial representation. If your case proceeds to court, our seasoned lawyers provide skilled representation, presenting your case, examining witnesses, and advocating for the compensation you deserve.
  • Peace of mind. Entrusting your case to us allows you to concentrate on your recovery, giving you the peace of mind that your interests are well protected.

Filing a Timely Claim with Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C.

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries due to someone else’s negligence or intentional actions, don’t hesitate to take action. Your rights matter, and filing a claim as soon as possible can help you receive the settlement you deserve. Contact our legal team today for a free consultation, where we can discuss your next steps and get started on your case.

Our contingency fee basis means we only get paid if we win your case, so there is no financial risk to you to get started. Call our law firm today at 1-866-MICH-LAW and schedule your no-obligation, free case evaluation.

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.

Alistair MacDonald holds a bachelor’s degree in History and minors in Classics and Economics from Hamilton College. He writes about complex financial and legal topics, explaining them in a reader-friendly way.

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