Statutes of Limitation and Repose
At Hoffer & Sheremet, we receive many calls from people who have been injured, but have waited too long to contact us. Don’t sleep on your rights. There are time limits that must be followed when bringing a lawsuit. Wait too long, and your claim will become barred by a statute of limitation or repose. A statute of limitation sets forth the time limitation for bringing a lawsuit for a claim that has already accrued and normally begins to run at the time the claim accrues. A claim generally accrues at the time the wrong upon which the claim is based was done, regardless of when damage results. MCL 600.5827. A statute of repose sets forth the time period after which a person cannot file a lawsuit even if the claim did not accrue or could not have been discovered during that time period.
Here are the limitation and repose period for common civil causes of action under Michigan law:
Assault and Battery: 2 year limitation period; 5 year limitation period for most domestic situations or dating relationships.
General Negligence: 3 year limitation period.
Legal Malpractice: 2 year limitation period. Claim generally accrues when the attorney stops representing the client as to the matter out of which the malpractice arose, regardless of when the claim is discovered. There are, however, other accrual dates, depending on the circumstances. Can be brought within 6 months of discovering a claim. Six year repose period. Read more about legal malpractice cases in our article, Legal Malpractice 101.
Medical Malpractice: Generally, 2 years from the date of the negligence or 6 months from the time the patient discovers or should have discovered the alleged negligence, whichever is later. Six year repose period, with exceptions. Note, serving the Notice of Intent tolls the limitations period, as explained in our article, Med Mal 101.
Libel or Slander: 1 year
Breach of Contract: 6 years (with exceptions)
Wrongful Death: Technically a “savings period,” a wrongful death claim must be commenced within 2 years of the date the personal representative is appointed and within 3 years after the limitations period has run on the underlying cause of action.
There are special rules that apply to insane individuals and to minors. If a person is insane at the time the claim accrues, the person can file suit up to one year after he or she becomes sane.
Generally, a minor has until their 19th birthday to file a lawsuit. This general rule, though, does not apply to medical malpractice actions. Instead, if the patient was under the age of 8 when the malpractice occurred, the medical malpractice case must be commenced by the minor’s tenth birthday. (Read about how this affects litigation in birth injury lawsuits here.) If the patient is over the age of 8 when the malpractice occurs, the general 2-year limitation period applies. But this, too, is subject to an exception. If a child is under the age of 13, and the claim involves an injury to the reproductive system, the patient has until his or her 15th birthday to commence the action, or the standard limitations period, whichever is later. If the person has reached his or her thirteenth birthday, the standard limitation period applies.
There is also a statute of limitations exception for fraudulent concealment. While difficult to prove, if a person who is liable for a claim fraudulently conceals the existence of the claim from the person entitled to sue, that person has two years from the time the person discovered or should have discovered the existence of the claim.
As you can see, analyzing the limitation period for a given case is complex. This article is intended solely as a rough guide and to introduce to the public the idea that there are deadlines for filing lawsuits. Do not rely solely on this article in deciding whether or not to pursue a lawsuit.
There are many exceptions to limitations periods, varying ways to determine accrual, and tolling mechanisms. If you are unsure whether your claim is within the limitations period, contact our medical malpractice and legal malpractice lawyers by completing our free consultation form, emailing us, or calling us at 616.278.0888. And remember, don’t sleep on your rights.