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Michigan Personal Injury Laws

When you suffer an injury to your physical or mental health, to your property or as a result of a breach of contract, you can recover compensation through a Michigan personal injury lawsuit. You have a right under Michigan law to be “made whole again” from the losses you suffer as a result of your injury at the injurer's expense.

However, your alleged injurer has their rights, too, which will require you to build a convincing case proving their liability. This means that, in most personal injury cases, you'll have to prove that they were negligent and responsible for causing your injury. You'll also need to be aware of the various Michigan laws that affect your case.

If you've been injured in Detroit, Ann Arbor or Grand Rapids, use LawInfo's Michigan personal injury articles to learn about the laws surrounding your case and to find a qualified attorney.

Michigan Proving Negligence

Most Michigan personal injury lawsuits seek compensation from defendants whose negligence was allegedly responsible for the injuries the plaintiff has suffered. In such cases, the defendant's negligence and liability to the plaintiff's injuries must be established for the plaintiff to qualify for recovery.

Michigan courts use many methods to determine negligence and liability, among which are the four elements of negligence and the “reasonably prudent person” principle. The four elements of negligence are:

  1. Duty—Did the defendant owe a duty of care to the plaintiff's safety from harm?
  2. Breach of Duty—Did the defendant's action constitute a breach of their duty?
  3. Causation—Were the defendant's actions responsible for the injuries the plaintiff sustained?
  4. Damages—Do the plaintiff's injuries qualify as damages that can be compensated by the defendant?

The reasonably prudent person principle is used to compare the defendant's actions surrounding the injuring incident to those of a theoretically responsible and law-observing person. If a defendant's actions are found to be deviant from those of a reasonably prudent person's, they may be found negligent.

Michigan Statute of Limitations

A statute of limitations limits how much time after an injury occurs that a plaintiff has to pursue legal action against a defendant. Once the statute “runs out,” a lawsuit cannot be pursued. Michigan's civil statute of limitations includes:

  • Three years for injury (or damage) to property.
  • Three years for personal injury.
  • Six years for written and oral contracts.
  • Three years for wrongful death.
  • Six years for fraud.
  • Six years for medical malpractice.

Types of Damages Recoverable in Michigan

The point of personal injury litigation is to recover compensation for losses related to your injury, known as “damages.” Michigan courts will only award actual (or compensatory) damages, which cover actual losses resulting from your injury. Michigan doesn't allow for punitive (or exemplary) damages to be awarded as a punishment for the defendant as other states allow. (See Gilroy v. Conway, 151 Mich. App. 268 (1986).)

Actual damages consist of economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages are compensation for losses with a distinct dollar value, such as repair bills for damaged property, medical treatment and hospital bills, therapy, lost wages/salaries, etc. Noneconomic damages are compensation for losses that don't have a distinct dollar value, such as pain and suffering, loss of consortium or companionship.

Michigan specifically limits the amount of noneconomic damages you can recover in product liability and medical malpractice cases to $280,000 for bodily injury or $500,000 for wrongful death or extreme disability.

Speak with a Personal Injury Attorney

Injuries cost money, including time away from work, medical bills and other complications. You should have an attorney help you with your claim. Not sure if you have a good injury case? Speak to a local personal injury attorney about the merits of your case. This one step can help you protect your rights and take the proper next steps.

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