Understanding Personal Injury Claims
In Michigan, the statute of limitations has strict guidelines for filing a personal injury claim after being involved in an accident. According to Michigan Compiled Laws Section 600. 5805, in general, the period of limitations is three years from when the death or injury occurred to recover damages for the death or injury to a person or damages to property.
What this essentially means is that if another person's careless or intentional acts caused you to sustain an injury, and you want to pursue a civil claim in court to remedy your losses, you have three years to file the complaint and all necessary paperwork to support your claim. The clock starts from the date of the accident or incident that caused the injury.
Read on to learn more about filing a personal injury claim and what to do if you miss the deadlines.
What Happens if I Miss the Filing Deadline?
If you fail to file your claim within the three years of when your injury happened, at this point, the defendant will most certainly file a motion to dismiss the claim. Once your case is dismissed, you no longer have the right to ask the court to award you damages for injuries, no matter how significant they may be or whether or not it's evident that the defendant is liable for your injuries.
There are rare exceptions that can entitle you to extra time. Read on to learn what exceptions the courts will consider in extending the time limit for filing a personal injury claim.
Exceptions to Personal Injury Claim Statute of limitations in Michigan
There are some instances in which you can still file a personal injury claim after the three-year deadline. Here are some examples as written in the Michigan Compiled Laws.
If the injured person is deemed to be insane at the time of the accident, they have one year to file the lawsuit once the period of “insanity” is over. It's important to understand that the legal definition of insane means that the person is in a condition of mental derangement that will prevent them from comprehending their rights and is “not dependent on whether or not the person has been judicially declared to be insane.” (Michigan Compiled Laws section 600.5851)
If the injured person were under 18 when the injuries were caused, they would have one year to file a personal injury lawsuit after turning 18. (Michigan Compiled Laws section 600.5851)
When pursuing a personal injury claim on behalf of a minor, speaking to a personal injury lawyer is critical when it comes to evaluating time constraints and exceptions.
The Defendant is Out of State
If the person (the defendant) who legitimately caused the injury leaves the state of Michigan at some point after the incident, before the lawsuit can be filed, and is gone for more than two months, the absence period will not likely be counted as part of the three years. This can be addressed to the court if there is no way for the plaintiff to serve the defendant with the lawsuit during the absence. (Michigan Compiled Laws section 600.5853)
Examples of Personal Injury Claims
Personal injury claims cover a broad spectrum of cases. Here are the most common types of cases:
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Motor vehicle accidents are among the top causes of catastrophic injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, burns, and severe bone fractures. In addition, the following negligent driving behaviors can pose life-threatening injuries to everyone on the road:
- Driving while distracted (talking or texting on a smartphone, playing with the radio, using a GPS)
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Reckless drivers (speeding, weaving in and out of traffic, running red lights and stop signs)
- Driving while drowsy/fatigued
- Tailgating (following too closely behind another vehicle)
- Failing to yield
- Illegal turns and lane changes
Medical malpractice, also referred to as med mal, happens when doctors, nurses, surgeons, or other medical professionals provide a substandard of care to their patients, resulting in harm or death. Some common examples of med mal are:
- Delayed diagnosis/failure to diagnose
- Surgical errors
- Anesthesia errors
- Medication errors
- Delayed treatment/failure to treat
- Emergency room errors
Under Michigan Compiled Laws section 600.5805(8), medical malpractice lawsuits must be filed within two years of the medical provider’s action (or failure to act). If more than two years have passed, Michigan Compiled Laws section 600.5838a(2) states that a medical malpractice suit must be filed within six months of when the patient’s harm was discovered or reasonably should have been discovered. Alternatively, med mal claims must be brought within six years of the act or failure to act, regardless of the discovery date.
Since medical malpractice claims are treated differently, and every case is unique, and it’s critical to consult an experienced med mal lawyer for assistance.
A premises liability claim can be pursued if someone sustained an injury caused by an unsafe or defective condition to someone's property. The following claims are categorized as premises liability:
- Slip and fall
- Snow and ice
- Inadequate upkeep of premises
- Insufficient building security that results in an injury or assault
- Elevator accidents
- Dog bites
- Swimming pool accidents
- Toxic fumes/chemicals
When a person dies due to another's negligence, eligible family members can pursue a wrongful death claim. A wrongful death may include the following types of claims:
- Birth injuries (to a baby or mother)
- Medical malpractice
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Occupational hazards
- Occupational exposure to toxic chemicals
- Defective products
- Premises accidents
- Supervised care (adult daycare, child daycare)
- Nursing home abuse or neglect
- Criminal actions (shootings, stabbings, or other acts of violence)
What Type of Damages Can I Recover From a Personal Injury Claim?
Being involved in a severe accident, victims can suffer physically, emotionally, and financially. Depending on your case, you may qualify for the following damages:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Emergency care
- Hospital visits
- Disability accommodations
- Rehabilitation/ physical therapy
Many accidents also result in property damage, such as motor vehicles, bicycles, motorcycles, or any personal possessions you held during the accident.
When an injury prevents you from returning to work or not being able to work at all, you can recover lost wages as well as your loss of earning capacity. In addition, if your injury prevents you from changing occupations, you can recover the difference in compensation from your previous employment.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering mean you can be compensated for physical and psychological distress due to the traumatic experience of your accident and injuries. Common examples of pain and suffering include:
- Mental anguish
- Chronic pain
- Permanent disability
- Development of a mental illness (depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc.)
When You Need Assistance With a Personal Injury Claim, We Can Help.
It's impossible to predict a life event that could lead to a severe injury — and when careless actions cause harm, it immediately becomes a stressful situation, especially when you are unsure where to go for help. Know that you are not alone, and you have rights. A personal injury claim is a legal avenue to which the negligent party is forced to own up to the mistakes that caused the injury and accept accountability for their careless actions.
At Grewal Law PLLC, our Michigan personal injury lawyers will work with you to help you understand your rights and pursue the outcome you not only want but the outcome you need and deserve. Rely on our team to stand in your corner at all times and guide you to the most favorable results possible.
To speak with an attorney about your personal injury claim, contact us today at (888) 211-5798.