How Long Do I Have to File A Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit?

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How Long Do I Have to File A Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit in Michigan?

motorcycle lawsuit statute of limitation

Key Points of This Article:

  • Registered motorcycle users in Michigan have gone up by more than 60% since 2000, and motorcycle fatalities have more than doubled.
  • Passenger vehicle motorists cause nearly 70% of motorcycle-related accidents, injuries, and rider fatalities.
  • Common motorcycle crash injuries include road rash, facial fractures, and disfigurement, broken bones, and burns that can range from minor to disabling.
  • The deadlines injured motorcyclists have to file an accident claim vary, but injured riders typically have either one year for No-Fault benefits or three years from the date of the accident to file a negligence lawsuit against the potential defendant.

Accident Claim Deadlines for Injured Motorcyclists in Michigan

In 2018, 36,560 people were killed in traffic crashes, of which 4,985 were motorcycle fatalities. And for the many more thousands who were injured while riding a motorcycle, their recovery has likely been long and challenging, often requiring costly rehabilitation, painful surgeries, work disruptions, and created significant life changes.

Some of the most often occurring injuries to motorcycle riders involved in a crash are:

  • road rash and skin abrasion
  • soft tissue wounds and painful scaring
  • broken bones and fractures
  • dismemberment and limb amputation
  • bruising and internal bleeding
  • burns
  • spinal cord injuries, paralysis, and head injuries
  • facial injuries to the eye and jaw
  • death

The effects these injuries have on the injured person, and his or her family is immense. Obtaining compensation from a negligent driver is one way to help put the pieces back together. But there are time limits to gather evidence, receive medical diagnoses, pay medical expenses, claim benefits, and identify the potential defendants, including the owner of the motor vehicle responsible for paying compensation for your injuries.

Filing A Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit and Understanding the Statute of Limitations

The deadlines injured motorcyclists have to file a motorcycle accident claim in Michigan can vary for each situation with no-fault benefits and third-party tort claims. If the months have passed and you are getting close to the first anniversary of your crash, bills are outstanding, and you need additional support for treatments and care, or accident injury challenges have continued beyond, review the Statute of Limitations below and contact an attorney immediately to learn what your options are.

  • First-Party No-Fault Claims:  The statute of limitations for a Michigan No-Fault claim (personal injury protection or PIP) are different and expire around one year from the date that benefit was incurred. Although not as strict as it used to be, injured motorcyclists have to be extra poignant with medical expenses and insurance payments during this time.
  • Example: You have a medical bill dated January 1, 2020. The bill should be paid by Geico or State Farm or Allstate or another insurance company responsible by December 31, 2020. But if one-year passes and that bill is still sitting with you without payment, the insurance company doesn’t have to cover it. 

No-Fault benefits include medical expenses related to the accident, wage loss, household replacement services, payment for mileage to and from medical appointments, and attendant care.

  • Third-Party Negligence Claims: Not always the case, but three years from the date of the accident to file a third-party claim (negligence or tort) lawsuit against all of the potential defendants is typical, including for pain and suffering and excess economic benefits, against the individual who caused the crash because they disobeyed traffic rules, like running a red light or making an illegal turn. When this happens, under Michigan law, the injured person can make an injury claim for compensation against the driver and owner of the at-fault vehicle and their auto insurance company.

Whether your motorcycle crash is in Battle Creek, Farmington, Detroit, or Saginaw, the right steps must be taken, especially if the other driver doesn’t have insurance. 

Safe Riding Can Help Avoid a Crash Caused By Bad Drivers

Safe riding practices and cooperation from all road users will help reduce the number of motorcycle fatalities and injuries on our nation’s highways. By raising motorists’ awareness, both drivers and riders will be safer sharing the road. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers the following tips for a safe motorcycle ride.

  • Wear Your Helmet: Wear a DOT-compliant helmet and use reflective tape and gear to be more visible.
  • Be Properly Licensed: Motorcycle-licensing regulations vary, but all states require a motorcycle license endorsement to supplement your automobile driver’s license. 
  • Practice Safe Riding: Take the time to get accustomed to your motorcycle before hitting the open road. Make sure you know how to handle your bike in a variety of conditions (e.g., inclement weather or encountering hazards such as slick roads, potholes, and road debris).
  • Check Your Motorcycle’s Condition: Before every ride, check the tire pressure and tread depth, hand and foot brakes, headlights and signal indicators, and fluid levels. You should also check under the motorcycle for signs of oil or gas leaks. 
  • Ride Safe and Sober: Never ride while distracted or impaired—it’s not worth the risk of killing or injuring yourself or someone else. Plus, a DUI costs $10,000 on average and can lead to jail time, impoundment of your motorcycle, loss of your operator’s license, and higher insurance rates.

To keep everyone safe, we urge drivers and motorcyclists to share the road and be alert, and we’re reminding motorcyclists to make themselves visible, ride sober, and although not required in Michigan, use DOT-compliant motorcycle helmets.

Let Us Take on the Legal Fight for the Compensation You Deserve

After you have been in a motor vehicle or motorcycle accident, it is reasonable to have questions about the applicable filing requirements and various statutes of limitations that may apply to your Michigan motorcycle accident. It’s our job as personal injury attorneys to hear what you have to say, review the options available, and help seek out the benefits that are rightfully yours. Call the Lee Steinberg Law Firm, P.C. toll-free at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) for a free consultation. 

Also read: Where and When Michigan Motorcycle Crashes Happen Most Often

Video Transcript

The statute of limitations for a motorcycle case, and this is different for each situation, this isn’t the gospel, but it typically is three years for a pain and suffering case from the date of the accident, so you have three years from the date of your accident to file a lawsuit against all of the potential defendants. If you wait past those three years, then you cannot file a lawsuit for pain and suffering against the defendant who caused the crash. 

Three years is a lot of time, but it’s important to get your ducks in a row early on so you can identify the potential defendants. Defendants aren’t necessarily just the driver who caused the crash. We have something called the owner’s liability statute in Michigan, so the owner of the car would also be responsible for paying compensation for your injuries, and sometimes it can take a little bit to figure out who the owner is, so you want to get your ducks in a row early on.

The statute of limitations for a Michigan no fault claim are a little bit different. It’s typically one year from the date that benefit was incurred, so you have one year from the date that your medical bill occurred to get it paid. If that bill from the car accident or motorcycle crash isn’t paid you have to file a lawsuit to sort of toll the statute of limitation, which allows you to still go after the car insurance company to pay that medical bill. 

The law has changed on that. It’s not as strict of a one year statute of limitation as it used to be, but you got to be really careful. For example, let’s say you had a medical bill from January 1, 2020. In theory you’re supposed to have that bill paid by Triple A Insurance or State Farm or Allstate by December 31st, 2020, and if one year goes by and that bill is still out there that insurance company doesn’t have to pay it. 

So give our office a call. If you’re getting close to the one year anniversary of your crash and you’ve got bills outstanding you need to contact legal counsel immediately, because you might end up getting stuck with medical bills that you shouldn’t have to be struck with.