Statute of limitations and how long an accident victim has to file a lawsuit
Our state motorcycle accident law is unique, because Michigan is a No-Fault state and under the No-Fault law, motorcycles are not considered “motor vehicles.”
This creates a lot of confusion on what types of legal rights are available to motorcycle operators after they’ve been hurt. Here’s what I tell them:
There are two types of legal claims a motorcycle accident lawyer can make for a motorcyclist who has been in a crash with another motor vehicle:
- A No-Fault PIP claim (also called a first-party claim), 1 year: This is the lawsuit between the motorcycle accident victim and his auto insurance company for No-Fault benefits. These benefits include medical expenses, wage loss, household replacement services (chores/help with children) and attendant care (nursing services). The statute of limitations to make a No-Fault claim is one year from the date of the motorcycle accident.
- Pain and suffering claim (also called a third-part claim), 3 years: This is the lawsuit that’s filed against the negligent driver involved in the motorcycle accident. The damages available include pain and suffering damages and excess economic benefits. The statute of limitations to make a pain and suffering claim is three years from the date of the motorcycle accident.
Danger Will Robinson! The statute of limitations changes in uninsured motorist claims involving motorcycles
When a motorcycle accident is caused by a car or truck driver who is never identified, a lawyer can bring what’s called an uninsured motorist claim. This means that you were in an accident with a driver who did not have auto insurance or was not identified, such as after a hit and run.
With an uninsured motorist claim, an injured motorcyclist turns to his own auto insurance company to pay what would have been recovered from the at-fault driver, had that person been properly insured and covered.
But uninsured motorist claims are contractual (not statutory), so the statute of limitations will vary, depending on the insurance company and the exact contract language in the policy (the contract).
Some contracts have one-year provisions and others have three-year provisions, while some have separate and independent notice provisions to contact the insurance company. These provisions may be much shorter than the one and three years allowed in first and third-party lawsuits.
It’s always best to review your own insurance policy carefully. If you have questions, call your insurance agent or an experienced accident lawyer.
Reading the fine print can be difficult. Yes, they are deliberately drafted by lawyers to be confusing. It never hurts to make a phone call and get free advice that can preserve valuable legal rights.
- Steven Gursten is an attorney who has been helping injured motorcycle accident victims in Michigan for nearly 20 years. He has received the highest motorcycle injury settlement in the state, according to published year-end reports by Michigan Lawyers Weekly.
Michigan Auto Law is the largest law firm exclusively handling car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Sterling Heights. Call (800) 777-0028 for a free consultation with one of our motorcycle accident lawyers.