Top Personal Injury Attorneys in Michigan
Life is unpredictable; one minute, you could be on your way home from work, wondering what you will have for dinner, and in the next moment, CRASH, you’re critically injured in a serious auto accident, likely due to the negligence of someone else that caused your life to stop in its tracks. You have rights, including holding the negligent party accountable and getting compensated for your damages with a personal injury attorney’s help.
For over 45 years, our expert personal injury lawyers have been winning settlements for our clients who have been wrongfully injured in a car accident, truck accident, motorcycle accident, pedestrian accident, bicycle accident, or any accident in Michigan. If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident, contact us online or call 844-LOBB-LAW for your free consultation today.
What is the Statute of Limitations in Michigan for a Negligence Claim?
According to Michigan Compiled Laws section 600.5805, which says: “the period of limitations is three years after the time of the death or injury for all actions to recover damages for the death of a person or injury to a person or property.” This means after another person’s careless or intentional act causes you injury, and you want to ask a court for a civil remedy for your losses, you have three years to get the initial documentation (the “complaint” and other required paperwork) filed in court, and the “clock” typically starts on the date of the underlying accident or incident that caused the injuries.
Michigan’s three-year deadline applies to almost all conceivable types of personal injury lawsuits, whether the case is driven by the liability principle of “negligence” (which applies to most accidents) or intentional tort (which applies to civil assault and battery and other purposeful conduct).
What if You Miss the Filing Deadline?
Suppose more than three years have passed since the underlying accident, but you try to file your personal injury lawsuit anyway. In that case, the defendant (the person you’re trying to sue) will almost certainly file a “motion to dismiss” and point this fact out to the court. And unless a rare exception entitles you to extra time, the court will summarily dismiss your case. Once that happens, you’ve lost your right to ask a court to award you damages for your injuries, no matter how significant they might be, and no matter how obvious the defendant’s liability.
Meeting Michigan’s personal injury statute of limitations is critical if you want to take your injury case to court via a formal lawsuit. The filing deadline set by this law is also key to your position in personal injury settlement negotiations with the defendant and their insurance company. If the other side knows that the three-year deadline has passed, you’ll have lost all your negotiating leverage.
Exceptions to the Michigan Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
Michigan has identified various factual scenarios that might delay the running of the statute of limitations, effectively extending the three-year filing deadline set by section 600.5805. Here are some examples of circumstances that are likely to modify the standard timeline:
- If the injured person is “insane” at the time of the underlying accident, he or she will have one year to file the lawsuit once the period of “insanity” is over. Note that “insane” in this context means “a condition of mental derangement” that prevents the sufferer from comprehending his or her rights and is “not dependent on whether or not the person has been judicially declared to be insane.” (Michigan Compiled Laws section 600.5851)
- If the injured person were under the age of 18 at the time of the underlying accident, they would have one year to file the personal injury lawsuit after turning 18. (Michigan Compiled Laws section 600.5851)
- If the person who allegedly caused the injury (the defendant) leaves the state of Michigan at some point after the underlying accident, and before the lawsuit can be filed, and is gone for more than two months, the period of absence likely won’t be counted as part of the two years, as long as there is no way for the plaintiff to “serve” the defendant with the lawsuit during the absence (Michigan Compiled Laws section 600.5853).
If you have questions about how the Michigan statute of limitations applies to your personal injury case, especially if the deadline is fast approaching or has already passed, now is the time to discuss your situation with an experienced Michigan personal injury attorney.
Importance of Legal Deadlines
Although each case may have a different limitation, these deadlines encourage the filing of lawsuits promptly. Since a statute of limitation is essentially a legal deadline, it is vital to know these deadlines to ensure you act quickly enough to move forward with your case. Filing a lawsuit sooner as opposed to later allows witnesses to retain critical information and better preserves evidence. It also provides some certainty and predictability to those involved concerning moving forward with their lives.
The following are a few essential statutes of limitations victims of personal injuries should know:
Automobile accident statute of limitations– Lawsuits against the at-fault driver responsible for your crash, in general, must be filed within three years.
Dog bite statute of limitations – Plaintiffs must file within three years from the date of injury.
Wrongful death statute of limitations – because Michigan’s Wrongful Death Act does not include a statute of limitations, the statute of limitations for the underlying cause of action (negligence) applies. In the case of wrongful death actions based on general negligence, the statute of limitations is three years.
In addition to Michigan’s statutes of limitations, certain areas also have “notice requirements.” Notice requirements are separate from the specific statute of limitations. For example, Michigan has a mandatory “one-year-back” rule which applies to unpaid medical expenses by a no-fault insurance company.
Personal Injury Facts
- The CDC reports that in 2019, unintentional injury deaths were the third leading cause of death in the United States. Automobile accident deaths and slip and fall deaths are the top two leading causes of unintentional deaths and are among the top triggers of personal injury claims.
- Only about five percent of all personal injury claims in the U.S. will go to trial, with the remainder being settled before trial.
- While a personal injury case may settle early, successful cases do take time. Unfortunately, it may not be ideal to wait a long time for someone in pain who has hospital bills to pay. But this type of lawsuit requires careful planning and must gather documentation of the injury and any costs to have a successful case.
- Each personal injury case is different and unique. Although certain types of cases can fit into specific categories, no one case is the same. An attorney should be prepared to approach the case, knowing that it could have an unexpected outcome. The outcome of a personal injury claim depends on many factors, each being different for every individual lawsuit.
Since each personal injury case is unique, it’s crucial to consult with our expert Michigan personal injury attorneys to determine which approach is best. It’s important to be patient and mindful during these cases to ensure the best outcome.
Compensatory Damages Recoverable in a Michigan Personal Injury Claim
The compensatory damages that you can recover in a Michigan personal injury claim can be broadly divided into two categories: economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages – also referred to as tangible damages or special damages – are damages that are meant to cover the quantifiable monetary losses you suffered (and might suffer in the future) as a result of your injuries. These include:
Depending on the nature and severity of your injuries, you might require extensive treatment and care. The most common medical expenses that you can claim in a Michigan personal injury claim include:
- Ambulance charges
- Diagnostic testing
- Lab fees
- Emergency medical care
- Surgery costs
- Physician’s charges
- Pain management treatment
- Prescription medication
- Follow-up care
Future Medical Expenses
If you suffer a serious or catastrophic injury, you might not fully recover or reach what they call “maximum medical improvement” (MMI) by the time your claim is settled. You might need medical treatment for several months or even years after your claim has been resolved. In such a situation, you have the right to seek compensation for medical bills and expenses that you might incur in the future.
Calculating future medical expenses can be a complicated process and requires the expertise of an experienced Michigan personal injury lawyer. Your lawyer will consult with the doctor who treated you, and with other medical experts if necessary, to determine the cost of treatment and care you might require in the foreseeable future.
Cost of Rehabilitation
If you need physical therapy in order to regain full or close-to-full mobility and functionality, you can seek compensation for it – as well as the cost of other rehabilitation treatments, if any – from the at-fault party.
In case you are unable to regain full mobility and functionality, you might require adaptive or assistive devices like crutches, walkers, wheelchairs, and scooters. You might also have to make certain modifications to your home in order to accommodate your disability. You have the right to recover the cost of these devices and modifications from the at-fault party.
Cost of Therapy
If you have developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or any other mental health condition due to the accident, you can seek compensation for psychotherapy and other mental health treatments as well.
For instance, if you are seriously injured in an automobile accident or a dog bite attack, your chances of developing PTSD are very high. Depending on the circumstances, you might require anywhere from 15 to 30 treatment sessions or even more. If you have co-occurring conditions, you might need therapy for at least 12 to 18 months.
Depending on the severity of your injuries, you might not be able to return to work for several weeks or even months. In such a scenario, you have the right to recover the earnings you lost (including your weekly wages or monthly salary, overtime pay, bonuses, and other perks) from the at-fault party.
You can prove lost earnings in a Michigan personal injury claim using the following documents:
- W-2 forms.
- Wage verification letter from your employer.
- Bank statements and tax returns (if you are a business owner or if you are self-employed).
- A note from the physician who treated you – specifying how long you might have to miss work due to your injuries.
Loss of Earning Capacity
If you suffer debilitating or catastrophic injuries, you might not regain full mobility or functionality or your cognitive abilities could be impaired. As a result, you might not be able to work at the same job or in the same industry.
For instance, if you are a construction worker and you are partially disabled in an accident, you might not be able to work again in construction due to the physically demanding nature of construction work.
On the other hand, if you are permanently and completely disabled or cognitively impaired as a result of your injuries, you might never be able to work again.
Under Michigan personal injury law, you have the right to recover the cost of future earnings you stand to lose due to your injuries. Your personal injury attorney will take a number of factors into account to determine the extent to which you have lost your earning capacity. These include:
- Your age.
- Number of years you might have been able to work had you not been injured.
- Your educational qualifications, work experience, vocational skills, and projected career path.
- Your earnings prior to the accident.
- Number of times you were promoted and number of performance-linked bonuses you received prior to the accident.
- Potential for promotions and increased earnings had you not been injured.
In addition to these calculations, your personal injury attorney might also consult with a vocational expert to accurately determine the extent of earning capacity you have lost or stand to lose due to your injuries.
If any of your personal belongings or other items were damaged in the accident, you can recover the cost of repairing or replacing those items from the at-fault party.
For instance, if your vehicle was damaged in the accident, you can recover the cost of repairing it. Similarly, if your camera, laptop, or other items were damaged in the accident, you can recover the cost of repairing them or recover an amount equivalent to their market value at the time of the accident.
Non-economic damages – also referred to as intangible damages or general damages – are damages that are meant to cover non-monetary losses that cannot be accurately quantified. These include:
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering damages are meant to compensate you for the physical pain, discomfort, mental anguish, and stress caused by your injuries. In order to recover pain and suffering damages in a Michigan personal injury case, you need to prove the following elements.
- Your injuries have resulted in an impairment that might be obvious to other people.
- Your impairment affects your mobility, functionality, and ability to lead a normal life.
Your Detroit personal injury lawyer might determine the value of pain and suffering damages using one of the following methods:
In this method, you can calculate the value of your pain and suffering damages by multiplying your economic damages by a number between 1 and 5 – depending on how serious your injuries are.
Per Diem Method
In this method, you can assign a dollar value for your pain and suffering and multiply it by the number of days it might take you to make a full recovery or to reach maximum medical improvement.
In order to prove pain and suffering, your Michigan personal injury attorney might have to provide a wide range of documentary evidence. These include:
- Your medical records.
- Report from the physician who treated you.
- Reports or testimonies from medical experts.
- Written notes, photographs, and videos that show how your day-to-day life is affected by pain and physical discomfort.
- Statements or testimonies from your family members and friends describing the pain and discomfort you are experiencing on a daily basis due to your injuries.
If you are severely disfigured as a result of your injuries, it can impact your personal and social life to a great extent. While you are unlikely to be financially impacted by your disfigurement, it can affect you in many other ways and make it harder for you to lead a normal life. This is a factor that is commonly taken into account while determining the value of non-economic damages in personal injury cases.
Diminished Quality of Life
Depending on the extent and severity of your injuries, you might no longer be able to do what you used to do prior to the accident. For instance, if you were an avid runner prior to the accident and you are partially disabled as a result of your injuries, you might not be able to run again. Consequently, your overall quality of life might be diminished significantly. It is also a factor that can determine the amount of non-economic damages that can be recovered in personal injury claims.
Loss of Consortium
If your injuries prevent you from performing your household duties, your spouse or your children can file a loss of consortium claim against the at-fault parties and recover compensation.
For example, if you are disabled from the waist down as a result of your injuries, you might no longer be able to have sexual relations with your spouse. In addition to that, you might not be able to assist your spouse with household chores and might not be able to perform your duties as a parent as well. In such a situation, your spouse and your children can file a loss of consortium suit to recover compensation for the loss of companionship, comfort, affection, and guidance.
Cap on Non-Economic Damages in a Michigan Personal Injury Claim
It should be noted that Michigan law places a cap on non-economic damages that you can recover in certain kinds of personal injury claims. For instance, in a medical malpractice claim, you can recover a maximum of $522,000 in non-economic damages. Moreover, if the case in question results in the permanent loss of one or more limbs, leaves you cognitively impaired, or causes permanent damage to the reproductive organ, you can recover up to $887,500 in non-economic damages.
There is a similar cap on the amount of non-economic damages that can be recovered in a product liability claim as well ($83,962).
Types of Personal Injury Claims
If you or a loved one have suffered a personal injury accident, we handle the following personal injury claims in Michigan:
- Car accidents– Those involved in a car accident due to another’s negligence can be left with severe injuries. Car accident claims can be complicated and involve numerous parties. Recent changes to the Michigan No-fault laws require a No-Fault lawyer with extensive experience and a thorough knowledge of Michigan’s car crash-related laws. Our expert car accident lawyers can help protect your no-fault rights and help you get the money you deserve.
- Truck accidents– When a smaller passenger vehicle is hit by a large commercial truck, the resulting injuries are likely to be severe or possibly fatal. Those who survive a truck accident may require lengthy recovery periods and be forced to undergo numerous medical and surgical procedures. Assigning liability in a truck accident can also be complicated. Our highly experienced Michigan truck accident attorneys have the knowledge and resources to represent your case.
- Motorcycle accidents– When a motorcyclist is involved in a collision, they don’t benefit from being surrounded by a steel frame, airbags, or other automobile safety features. Even worse, insurance companies often stereotype bikers as being reckless for merely being bikers. If you or a loved one has suffered substantial personal injury after being involved in a motorcycle crash, contact our experienced and knowledgeable motorcycle accident attorneys.
- Pedestrian accidents– When an unprotected pedestrian is struck by a vehicle, they are likely to receive catastrophic injuries. It can be challenging to obtain the compensation needed to recover from such injuries on your own. Consult with our attorneys to discuss your case. We fight aggressively to help victims of pedestrian accidents receive the compensation they are entitled to receive.
- Bicycle accidents– Like pedestrian accidents, bicycle accidents can leave the victim severely injured and unable to work and make a living. Our compassionate personal injury attorneys will help bicycle accident victims get back on their feet (or their wheels!) and move forward in their life.
- Premises liability claim– occurs when a person has an accident on a property due to an unsafe or hazardous condition. The owner or manager of a property has a responsibility to either correct the dangerous condition or, at the very least, place a sign which warns of the current state. Suppose there is no warning of a hazardous condition and an accident with injuries occurs. In that case, it is crucial to speak to one of our experienced injury lawyers regarding your case.
- Slip, trip, and fall accidents– A slip and fall accident can result in soft tissue injuries or more severe injuries to bones, the spinal cord, or the brain. Our attorneys have the expertise to thoroughly investigate your slip and fall accident, helping you obtain the justice you deserve.
- Dog bites– Statistics show that 1 of every 5 dog bite injuries require medical attention; 1 of every 13 requires emergency care. Victims of dog bites are often small children and can be left with severe facial lacerations, which can cause permanent disfigurement. Dog bites can happen for many reasons; however, you should take your case seriously no matter the basis for a dog bite. If a dog has bitten you or someone you love, contact our experienced dog bite attorneys to discuss your case.
Frequently Asked Questions on Michigan Personal Injury Claims
How do I know if I have a personal injury case?
You might have a personal injury case if you have been injured or developed a medical condition as a result of:
- Another person’s negligence or intentional actions.
- A defective or dangerous product.
- Medical malpractice.
- A property owner’s negligence (which led to a slip and fall accident).
- Injury suffered at work due to the negligence or breach of duty of a third party (other than your employer).
The personal injury lawyers at The Lobb Law Firm can assess your case and tell you whether you have a legitimate claim against someone.
Can I file a personal injury claim by myself?
You have the legal right to do so, but it is not advisable. Remember – insurance companies are loaded with money and have the toughest negotiators under their employment. Without the assistance of a seasoned Michigan personal injury attorney, it might be virtually impossible for you to recover full and fair compensation.
How do I determine the value of my injury claim?
The value of your injury claim depends on a number of factors including, but not limited to:
- Nature, extent, and severity of your injuries.
- Whether you might require ongoing treatment.
- Whether you are physically or cognitively impaired as a result of your injuries.
- How long you are expected to miss work due to your injuries.
- Whether your earning capacity is reduced or affected in any way due to your injuries.
- Whether you are disfigured as a result of your injuries.
- Whether your injuries are likely to have any impact on your quality of life.
An experienced Michigan injury attorney can take all these factors into consideration, consult with experts, and accurately determine the value of your injury claim.
If I’m injured in a car accident, can I file a claim against the at-fault driver?
It depends. First of all, you need to file a no-fault claim with your own auto insurance carrier and recover compensation for your medical bills and lost wages. You can file a personal injury claim only if your injuries result in serious and permanent disfigurement or a serious impairment of a body function. In the event of your death, your spouse or other family members can file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault parties.
Can I recover punitive damages in a Michigan personal injury claim?
In Michigan, punitive damages are referred to as exemplary damages. They are not meant to punish the at-fault party, but to compensate you for the humiliation, indignity, or injustice caused by the at-fault party. You might be awarded exemplary damages only if you can establish that the at-fault party acted with malice or with willful disregard for your rights or safety.
What are my legal rights under Michigan law as an injury victim?
Your rights as a personal injury victim in Michigan include:
- The right to sue the at-fault party (as long as you do so within the deadline).
- The right to be compensated for your injuries, damaged property, lost earnings, and other losses.
- The right to not make a statement to the at-fault party’s insurance company (your attorney can take care of it for you).
- The right to not settle the case under anyone’s compulsion (your attorney can litigate the case if they believe it might be necessary).
Do I have to prove the at-fault party’s negligence in order to recover damages?
Yes. You need to prove that your injuries were caused directly as a result of the at-fault party’s negligence or willful actions. However, in some cases, you might be able to recover damages without having to prove negligence. For instance, in dog bite claims and defective product claims, you are not required to prove negligence, as you can hold the at-fault party strictly liable for your injuries.
Can I recover damages even if I am partially at fault?
You most certainly can. Michigan follows the legal doctrine of modified comparative negligence, under which injury victims have the right to recover restitution even if they are partially at fault for the accident.
However, there are two caveats to this rule.
- First, your compensation will be reduced based on the degree or extent to which you were responsible for the accident. For example, if you are found to be 25% at fault, your compensation will be reduced by 25%.
- Secondly, and more importantly, if you are found to be 51% at fault or more, you cannot recover any damages from the other party.
Will my case get settled out of court or will it go to trial?
Over 95% of personal injury claims filed in the country are settled out of court. What it means is that 9 out of 10 times, your attorney might be able to settle your case out of court. Pertaining to this, if the at-fault insurance company adamantly refuses to pay fair compensation, or if your attorney believes that they might be able to recover substantially more damages if they take the case to trial, they might do so.
How long does it take for a Michigan injury claim to be resolved?
If your injuries are not serious in nature, your claim might be resolved in less than a year. However, if your injuries are serious in nature, if there are multiple at-fault parties, or if the at-fault party deliberately tries to drag out the claim process, it can take two to three years or even longer to resolve your claim.
Can I file a claim against a government agency in Michigan?
Government agencies in Michigan – at the state, city, and county level – are protected by sovereign immunity and generally cannot be sued by anyone. In relation to this, there are a few exceptions to this rule. Under certain circumstances, you might be able to sue a government agency. These include:
- If you are injured by defective road conditions.
- If you are injured while getting treated at a government medical facility.
- If you are injured due to a defect in the sewage disposal system.
- If you are injured due to a defective condition in a government building.
- If you are injured by a person operating a government vehicle.
Do I have to pay my injury attorney up front?
No, you do not have to. The Detroit personal injury lawyers at The Lobb Law Firm work on a contingency basis. We will not charge you a single dime upfront. We will spend our own money and fight aggressively to resolve it as fast as possible. Once your case is settled or resolved through litigation, we will take a cut out of your settlement or jury award. If we do not win your case, you do not have to pay us anything.
How do I choose the right injury lawyer to handle my claim?
When choosing a Michigan injury lawyer, you should take the following factors into account:
- Experience in handling claims similar to yours.
- Track record of recovering substantial compensatory damages.
- Trial experience.
- Ability to communicate clearly.
- Financial resources and connections (in case you are planning to sue a truck company or any other commercial enterprise with considerable resources at their disposal).
The Detroit, MI personal injury lawyers at The Lobb Law Firm offer a free consultation for injured victims with no obligation to commit. You can schedule a free consultation, meet one of the skilled and experienced personal injury attorneys from our firm, discuss your accident or injury case with them, and make an informed decision about pursuing your claim for damages.
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