How long you have to make an injury claim after a car accident depends on the type of claim. If another driver hit you, you probably have multiple claims. Common car accident claims include:


  • Michigan no-fault claim (this includes your medical bills and wage loss)


  • Negligence claims against the at-fault driver and owner of the at-fault vehicle (for your pain and suffering damages)


  • Dram shop claim (against a bar, restaurant, or other liquor licensee for overserving alcohol to a customer who later drives drunk and hurts or kills someone)


  • Underinsured motorist claim (against your insurance company for your damages that exceed the at-fault driver’s insurance)


  • Uninsured motorist claim (against your insurance company for your pain and suffering damages if the at-fault driver did not have insurance)


  • Product liability claim (for a defective car part that caused the accident or injury)


After a car accident, you have a limited time frame to file legal claims, and each legal claim has its own time limit. It’s important to know these time limits because, if you miss one, you are forever barred from making the claim. 


Here are some important time limits that apply to common car accident claims. 


How long do you have to make a Michigan no-fault claim?


You must submit an application for no-fault benefits before the one-year anniversary of the car crash to the correct insurance company or state plan (MACP). The “correct” no-fault insurance company is usually your personal auto insurance, but not always. You should talk with a lawyer after a car accident to confirm the correct no-fault insurance company or plan.


If you don’t submit an application for no-fault benefits within a year of the crash, you are forever barred from receiving Michigan no-fault benefits. That’s a big deal because that includes your medical bills and wage loss. 


A different time limit applies as to how long you have to file a lawsuit in a no-fault claim. Generally, you have one year from the date that a no-fault benefit is denied to file a lawsuit challenging non-payment of that benefit. If you don’t file a lawsuit in that time, the insurance company is no longer responsible for paying that benefit. It becomes your responsibility. Below is an example of how this works. 


John Smith is in a car crash on January 1, 2021. John Smith gets medical treatment the same day. The hospital bills John Smith’s no-fault insurance company. The insurance company denies the bill on February 1, 2021, because it says John Smith’s treatment was not related to the crash (they say this all the time). John Smith has one year from February 1, 2021 to file a lawsuit challenging the denial. If he doesn’t, on February 2, 2022, the insurance company is no longer responsible for paying the bill. Now John must pay it. 


How long do you have to make negligence claims against the at-fault driver and the owner of the at-fault vehicle?


You have three years from the date of the crash to file a negligence lawsuit against the at-fault driver and the owner of the at-fault vehicle. 


However, there are good reasons for acting sooner. For example, the more time that passes between a crash and a victim bringing a claim, the more skeptically an insurance company views the claim. Also, insurance companies often act quickly to limit what they have to pay. This often includes taking a recorded statement of you to try to get you to say something that will decrease the value of your claim. If you were hit by another driver and hurt, it is a good idea to talk with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible to make sure you don’t fall victim to these tactics. 


How long do you have to make a dram shop claim?


A dram shop claim is a claim against a bar, restaurant, or other liquor licensee for overserving someone alcohol, leading to an accident. A person has two years from the date of an accident to file a dram shop lawsuit. Failure to do so will forever bar that claim. However, there is also a notice requirement that applies to dram shop claims. A person bringing a dram shop claim must give written notice to all potential defendants (bars/restaurants) within 120 days of retaining an attorney to pursue their claims. Failure to satisfy this notice requirement can result in the dismissal of the claim. If you think you have a dram shop claim, contact a car accident lawyer immediately to avoid missing these deadlines.


A dram shop claim may also be brought against a bar, restaurant, or other liquor licensee who sells alcohol to a minor where the minor causes a crash and injures someone. 


How long do you have to make an underinsured and uninsured motorist claims?


Not everyone has these types of insurance. You have to pay extra for them, but they are inexpensive and important insurance coverages. If you have them, the time limits that apply to these claims are set by your insurance contract. If you miss the deadline for filing these claims after a car accident, or giving the required notice to the insurance company, you will forever be barred from bringing these claims.  


Many insurance contracts limit a person’s right to bring these claims to the first three years after a crash, but not always. The applicable time limit depends entirely on the language of the contract. Go over the terms of your insurance contract with a lawyer as soon as possible after a crash. You want to make sure you do not miss any statute of limitations or notice requirements for these types of claims. If you do, you will forever be barred from bringing these claims.  


How long do you have to make a product liability claim? 


The statute of limitations for a product liability claim in Michigan is three years from the date of injury. However, there are good reasons for acting sooner. In product liability cases, it is important to preserve as much evidence as possible, especially the product itself. Often, cars are scrapped after crashes. If you believe you have a potential product liability claim, it is important to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible to know your rights and preserve evidence, especially the vehicle. If the vehicle is not preserved, it will be extremely difficult to pursue a product liability claim. 


Time matters when making a car accident claim


If you were in a car accident and need to make an injury claim, talk with an attorney as soon as possible. Knowing how long you have to file a claim after a car accident is complex. A car accident attorney can tell you your legal rights and the claims available to you. Experienced attorneys know how to protect your rights. 

Call or contact Conybeare Law Office now to speak with an experienced Michigan car accident lawyer  

A car accident is a scary, painful, and traumatic experience. It can be difficult to know who to talk to after a crash, but having an experienced Michigan car accident attorney can help decrease the stress and uncertainty that comes after an accident. The knowledgeable car accident lawyers at Conybeare Law Office will help you understand your rights so you feel like you are in control, and they will fight to get you the money you deserve. 

To learn more about the wide range of legal services offered to our Michigan car accident clients, talk to our office today. Conybeare Law Office has offices in Saint Joseph and Kalamazoo, Michigan, and proudly serves all of southwest Michigan and beyond. Call or contact us for a free consultation. Remember, if it’s not fair, call the bear.