When to File Your First Party Lawsuit
After a serious auto accident, you will probably be eager to see the no-fault benefits paid. In fact, the law puts a limit on how long you can wait to file. But there is also a risk in filing your First Party Lawsuit too early. It is up to your auto accident attorneys to decide when to file.
No-Fault Statute of Limitations
Unlike your Notice of Claim, which is filed with the insurance company directly, you don’t have to file your First Party Lawsuit right away. Under the Michigan No-Fault Act, you have 1 year to start your lawsuit. But that is a hard deadline. If you miss the one year cut off by even one day, it could keep you from receiving any of your no-fault benefits.
There are two exceptions to that rule:
- Where you have given notice to your insurance provider; or
- Where the insurance provider has paid you some benefits.
Often, when one of those two exceptions come in to play, the insurance company will start by paying benefits, but later cut you off. In that case, your lawyers can still take the insurance company to court to collect the last year of denied benefits.
Why Not File Right Away?
With such a serious consequence for waiting too long, why don’t lawyers just file first and ask questions later? Dedicated no-fault attorneys don’t often rush to file a First Party claim. Instead, they perform careful medical investigations to make sure they have all the information before heading to the court house. There are a few reasons for that:
Your insurance provider could agree to pay.
While they are completing the medical investigation, your car accident attorneys will also be negotiating with your insurance company. If the defense attorneys agree to pay you reasonable benefits, there is no reason to go through the added time and expense of court.
Your injuries could develop over time.
What seemed like a minor issue in the first days after an auto accident can develop into a big medical problem later on. This is especially true for brain injuries or other soft-tissue damage. By waiting to file the complaint, your lawyers will have a better idea what kind of case they are dealing with, and how to collect all the no-fault benefits you deserve.
You need to file in the right place.
Depending on how large your claim is, you may need to file in District Court or Circuit Court. Usually a serious injury accident will have large enough damages to be in circuit court. But if you are only collecting for some medical billing, the local court may be all you need. Moving a case from district to circuit court takes time and money. Better to file it right the first time.
Deciding when to file your First Party Lawsuit is a careful balance between enough investigation and legal deadlines. It is important to contact Christensen Law soon after the accident. That will give your lawyers the time to prepare your case.