Question

How Long After a Car Accident Can I Sue an Uninsured Driver in Michigan?

John H. Bredell

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John H. Bredell

Located in Ypsilanti, MI
Bredell & Bredell

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Answer

If you’ve been involved in a car accident with an uninsured motorist in Michigan, you’ll want to be aware of some important time limits to file your lawsuit. Any lawsuit arising from a car accident must be filed within a certain time frame or an injured driver’s legal claim will be barred and the right to sue lost forever. The particular time limit will depend on what type of no-fault damages claim you are filing against the uninsured driver: a “first-party” or “third-party” claim.

First-Party Claims

Michigan’s no-fault insurance law entitles you to make a “first-party” claim for your injuries. These benefits are also called “personal injury protection” (PIP) benefits.

In a first-party claim scenario, a driver will make a claim to his or her own insurance company. The insurance company will then provide reimbursement for reasonable medical expenses, wage loss, replacement services (help around the house), mileage, survivor benefits, attendant care and funeral services if necessary.

In order to claim no-fault PIP benefits in Michigan, you must file your claim application with your insurer within one (1) year from the date of the accident. Likewise, if there are any expenses that are not covered by your insurance provider, you must file a lawsuit for those expenses within one (1) year from the date the expenses were incurred.

Exceptions

Children and incapacitated or mentally incompetent persons may be entitled to a longer time limit, but consider speaking to an attorney to understand important time limits or you could lose your right to sue.  

Third-Party Claims

Third-party claims are simply lawsuits against an uninsured, negligent driver. Typically these types of damages include pain and suffering or any other economic losses that exceed Michigan’s PIP statutory no-fault amount. This means the no-fault policy will pay up to a certain amount and anything in excess of that may have to be recovered from the defendant in a personal injury lawsuit. For example, the maximum coverage amount for funeral expenses under Michigan’s PIP law is $5,000.  

As with all lawsuits, there is a time limit to file a third-party claim in a Michigan court. Injured drivers, or their survivors, have three (3) years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit according to Michigan law.

Exceptions

Children, military personnel and those judged mentally incompetent may be entitled to a longer time limit, but speak to an attorney to help you determine if you qualify under the exception. 

The Bottom Line

Remember, if you are convicted of driving without no-fault insurance coverage, you may be fined, put in jail for up to one (1) year, or both. You may also incur additional fines and costs under the 2003 Michigan’s Driver Responsibility Law. For more information, visit the Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS).

If you have been injured in a car accident in Michigan, you will have important questions that need immediate answers. Consider hiring a personal injury attorney to help with your case. Having an experienced injury lawyer on your side can be the determining factor in whether or not you are fully compensated for your injuries. This is particularly true in a no-fault state where, if your injuries rise to a certain level, you may be able to file a lawsuit to collect the additional damages. 

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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