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

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Cruising down the highway on a motorcycle provides riders with a sense of freedom they don’t get behind the wheel of a vehicle. However, the risks of riding often introduce an element of vigilance. Taking steps to reduce the risk certainly helps. According to the Insurance Information Institute, wearing helmets saved an estimated 1,872 riders’ lives in 2017.

Despite anything motorcyclists do to protect themselves on the open road, they are still vulnerable to the actions of others. In 2019, bike collisions resulted in 79,000 injuries and 5,115 deaths. That same year, motorcyclists’ fatality rates were 29% higher than motorists’ fatality rates. If you sustained injuries in a crash with a vehicle, working with an attorney may improve your chances of recovering damages for your injuries. Time is of the essence, so it’s essential to know how to proceed with a motorcycle accident claim.

Essential Steps To Take After a Motorcycle Accident

The steps you take immediately following an accident can significantly impact the outcome of your case. If you are seriously injured, you may need to rely on others at the scene to follow through on securing information, gathering evidence and consulting with a motorcycle accident attorney.

Calling for Help

Even if you don’t think your injuries are serious, it’s usually a good idea to call 911 to get emergency services out to the scene. Law enforcement interviews everyone at the accident site and writes up a report that you and your attorney can access later. When emergency medical professionals arrive, they assess injuries and provide on-site care. This provides initial documentation that you received your injuries due to the accident.

Securing Information

You want to get information from the vehicle drivers, passengers and witnesses. Make sure you obtain the following from the vehicle driver:

  • Name and contact information
  • Driver’s license number, issuing state and expiration date
  • License plate number
  • Vehicle make, model and year
  • Insurance details

All this information is necessary when filing an insurance claim or lawsuit. When you can obtain it immediately, it saves you or your attorney the time of tracking it down later.

Get the contact information from passengers and witnesses. Your lawyer can get in touch with these individuals to get statements from them about the accident to help build a strong case for your claim. Interviews with witnesses can be valuable for proving liability.

Gathering Evidence

When possible, take photographs and videos of the accident scene. The police investigators and insurance adjusters will likely take photos, but you may capture additional information that can be useful in proving liability and building your case.

If you require medical assistance, visit a healthcare facility immediately. Let the doctor know how you received your injuries. The physician includes this in the notes about your visit, further establishing evidence linking your injuries to the accident.

Consulting a Motorcycle Accident Attorney

Though you need to contact your insurance company to let the agents know you were in a motorcycle accident, you aren’t required to speak to the vehicle driver’s insurance representative. You may want to contact a motorcycle accident attorney right away.

If you cannot make the call yourself, a relative can consult with one on your behalf. Since you are on a stringent timeline for filing a lawsuit, consulting with an attorney as soon as possible is crucial.

The Deadline To Keep in Mind

The time you have to settle a claim with the insurance company is different than the deadline for filing a personal injury lawsuit. Insurance providers are keen on settling claims as fast as possible and generally push victims to accept their offers quickly. They also want to lower their costs. As such, they design their proposals to entice you into agreeing while ensuring they do not dole out any more money than necessary.

You do not need to accept their offer! Doing so hinders your ability to take further action. If they don’t offer enough — as is almost always the case — to cover the extent of your damages, you are left bearing the burdens of under-compensation. When the insurance provider does not agree to a fair settlement, you can file a personal injury lawsuit. However, you need to make sure you file within the legally allotted timeframe.

Understanding the Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations is a legal time limit established for pursuing a lawsuit. The state government implements deadlines for civil and criminal cases, and they vary based on the type of case involved. This deadline is the statute of limitations, and governments write it into state legislation. The statute of limitation is a strict law that affects how quickly you must proceed when filing a legal claim in court.

The statute of limitation for motorcycle accident personal injury suits is two or three years in most states. According to Michigan’s Compiled State Laws, you have three years from the time of the collision to file a lawsuit. You might be surprised at how many people miss this deadline. Getting a head start on the process and procuring a motorcycle accident lawyer’s assistance can significantly reduce the likelihood of failing to file on time.

Knowing the Exceptions

It is essential to remember that the statute of limitations is a legally binding deadline. When you submit a lawsuit claim to the courts, the courts notify the party you intend to sue. If you file before the statute of limitations is up, the defendant’s lawyers may attempt to file a motion to dismiss. However, the courts deny the request unless they have a credible argument.

Missing the deadline for filing is one motion to dismiss that is almost always granted. However, there are legal exceptions to the statute of limitations. In Michigan, as in most other states, the most common deadline exceptions are:

  • Defendant location: If a defendant leaves the state for at least two months, the statute of limitations is paused until the individual returns. If the defendant lives in another state, you must file the suit in the state in which the individual lives.
  • Victim age: When the victim of a motorcycle accident is a minor, the statute of limitations extends to one year after the individual turns 18. You can’t obtain a motorcycle license in Michigan unless you are 16, thus the statute of limitations would still be three years when the operator is injured. However, since Michigan has no law for minimum age requirement for passengers, the extended deadline would apply to passengers younger than 16.
  • Mental capacity: If the victim of a motorcycle accident is mentally incapacitated to the degree that the individual is incapable of understanding their rights, the statute of limitations lasts up to a year after the victim obtains or regains capacity.

Exceptions in other states may include those made for victims who get called up for military duty or those who become incarcerated. A motorcycle accident attorney can help you identify whether you or your loved one qualify for an exception to the statute of limitations.

Experienced Motorcycle Accident Lawyers That Work for You

At Mike Morse Law Firm, we understand the challenges bikers face in obtaining fair compensation for their injuries. Insurance providers are usually biased against motorcyclists, making it even more important for victims to secure an attorney who knows how to handle motorcycle accident cases. If you sustained injuries in a collision, we’re here for you 24/7. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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