Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury

The question is often asked, “What is Michigan’s Statute of Limitations for personal injury?”  The general answer is that you have three years in personal injury cases, two years if it is a medical malpractice case and one year for a libel or slander case. However, with many laws there are exceptions.

Statute of limitations are laws that prescribe the permissible amount of time after damage or injury has occurred in which legal proceedings must commence.  In layman’s terms, it means that you have “x” amount of time to seek legal action from the time the incident occurred.  The purpose of statutes of limitations is to help guard against the erosion of evidence, e.g., a person’s memory fades, records get lost or destroyed, evidence gets intentionally corrupted, etc.  These limitations also help people to move on with their lives by not having to worry about “surprise” legal proceedings on events that transpired in the distant past.

In criminal cases, the majority of states have a statute of limitation for the various types of criminal actions, with exception of murder–there are no time limits on when a person can be tried for murder. Once a time period for an alleged crime has expired, a court cannot try, or punish a defendant.  In civil suits, states govern the various statute of limitations based on the cause of the action.

These cases are broken down into groups: personal injury from negligence or intentional wrongdoing, property damage from negligence or intentional wrongdoing, breach of an oral contract, breach of a written contract, professional malpractice, libel, slander, fraud, trespass, a claim against a governmental entity (usually a short time), and some other variations.

On certain occasions, a statute of limitations can be extended (“tolled”). One instance is because of a delay in the discovery of the injury. Also, a minor’s right to sue for injuries due to negligence is tolled until the minor turns 18, except if it is for a claim against a governmental agency.

Statutes of limitation vary depending on the type of legal claim and on the state law. Most statutes of limitation are between 1-6 years. In cases that are deemed particularly heinous, such as murder, there is no statute. If you have questions about a statute of limitations, contact Whiting Law for a free consultation.

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