How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit After a Car Accident?

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Physical injuries from a car accident can be life-altering events that leave you concerned about your health and financial well-being. After an accident, people often feel confused about what to do and where to turn for help. A personal injury lawyer is there to guide you through the steps of the legal process.

You may be able to settle your case without filing a formal lawsuit. Some claims can be negotiated among the parties to a case for fair compensation. At other times, it could be necessary to file a formal lawsuit because of the complexity of your situation and the need to recover substantial damages. The essential thing is to file your case within the designated time, so you don’t lose the opportunity to get the compensation you deserve.

What Should You Do Immediately After an Accident?

Time is of the essence in car accident cases. Part of a solid legal case is having evidence to back up your claim. In the case of auto accidents, it is best to collect evidence as soon as possible. Often, your attorney wants more information about the scene of an accident and the conditions than were filed in a police report. Additionally, you want to get witness statements on record before individuals forget the details of the incident.

If the accident is the fault of another party, you will likely receive calls from an insurance company offering a quick settlement to your case. Most of the time these offers are much lower than the compensation you are entitled to under the law. Here are some things you can do to help your case:

  • Contact an attorney to determine the merits of your case
  • Retain legal help promptly
  • Get a copy of the accident report
  • Collect available witness information
  • Call your insurance company and give the basic details of the accident

If your injuries are severe, a family member or personal representative can contact a lawyer to get the process started for you. It is essential to have your attorney begin communicating with other parties on your behalf. In some instances, unintentional misstatements and mishandled information can result in the denial of your claim.

What Is a Statute of Limitations?

A statute of limitations is defined as the period of time after an injury which you are granted by legislative statutes or common laws to file a lawsuit. Unfortunately, some people delay filing and realize too late that they no longer have a legal remedy for their ongoing injuries and expenses. While there are cases where extenuating circumstances apply, it is crucial to act quickly so you don’t run the risk of missing out on compensation for your losses.

How Does the Statute of Limitations Work in Michigan?

According to Michigan Compiled Laws section 600.5805, “the period of limitations is 3 years after the time of the death or injury for all actions to recover damages for the death of a person or for injury to a person or property.” In car accidents that involve personal injury, individuals who sustain these injuries have legal recourse up to three years after the event. In that time, you must file the initial complaint with the court.

This statute applies to injuries caused by either negligent or intentional actions on the part of others. The language of the law allows for a range of personal injury cases, including those suffered in car accidents. Statutes of limitations differ based on specific jurisdictions throughout the U.S.

What Happens When You Miss the Deadline?

In most situations, you cannot make a legal case once the statute of limitations has expired. If you do proceed with filing a lawsuit, the defendant in the case will probably file a motion to dismiss due to your failure to meet the legal requirements of a personal injury case. Because the defendant has legal standing, the court will likely summarily dismiss the case.

At this point, you lose your right to recover damages, no matter if your injuries are debilitating or permanent. The issue is that you cannot negotiate the case because the other party points out the lapsed filing time. Even if the defendant’s liability is clear, your late claim is outside of the bounds of established law.

What Are the Exceptions?

Some narrowly defined categories allow for exceptions to the filing time requirement in Michigan. These are three instances of exceptions:

  1. If a person who causes an injury leaves the state before a lawsuit is filed and remains gone for more than two months, this time is usually not counted because of an inability to serve the legal paperwork. (Section 600.583)
  2. If an individual was under 18 when an accident occurred, this person has the right to file a lawsuit up to one year after turning the age of 18. (Section 600.581)
  3. If an injured person is “insane” at the time an accident happens, this individual has one year from the time the “insanity” ends to file a lawsuit. This determination relates to the person’s ability to comprehend personal rights and not necessarily a judicial declaration of insanity. (Section 600.581)

These situations effectually allow for a pause in the countdown clock. The clock begins again at its previous point once the conditions surrounding these issues resolve. An experienced Michigan personal injury lawyer can answer your questions about the legal limitations of lawsuits and how these issues apply to your case.

Why Do You Need a Lawyer in a Personal Injury Case?

Personal injury cases are often complex legal matters and require a skilled lawyer to negotiate settlements and argue cases in court. There are multiple reasons an attorney is vital to your case:

  • Determines the value of your case: It is necessary to determine the value of your claim before making a case. A lawyer calculates your financial losses, including the reimbursement amount for pain and suffering, in accordance with personal injury laws to determine a damage award for your case.
  • Proves liability: Personal injury cases hinge on proving fault and liability to make your case.
  • Negotiates settlements: Settlement negotiations require ongoing arbitration to reach an agreement between parties.
  • Files your lawsuit paperwork: A substantial amount of legal paperwork is required in any lawsuit, and a personal injury case is no different. This applies to the many legal motions that arise as a case progresses in court.
  • Provides legal counsel: One of the most important services a lawyer offers is legal counsel. Keeping you informed throughout the legal process is a crucial aspect of legal representation.

If you file a lawsuit, your attorney will apprise you of details about your legal strategy. Most personal injuries cases are settled outside of court. Each step of the way, your attorney provides updates and information related to your lawsuit.

The Team You Need for Car Accident Cases

Mike Morse Law Firm is a team of experienced Michigan litigators knowledgeable in personal injury law. We are dedicated to helping our clients protect their rights with skilled legal representation.

If you are injured in a car accident, call for assistance right away. It is essential to begin building your case as soon as possible so you get the compensation you deserve. Mike Morse Law Firm is your trusted advocate in a difficult time. We make you this promise: there are no fees unless we win. Fill out this quick form, and we will let you know within two hours if you have a case.


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