What Is the Personal Injury Statute of Limitations in Michigan?

Find out how long you have to file a Michigan personal injury lawsuit, when the deadline can be extended, and what happens if you file too late.

By , J.D. · University of San Francisco School of Law
Updated by Dan Ray, Attorney · University of Missouri–Kansas City School of Law

A "statute of limitations" is a law that limits your time to file a lawsuit in court. Michigan has several that apply to personal injury (PI) suits. They all have one job: To kill legal claims. Miss the filing deadline and odds are, your PI claim is dead. Nothing you do will bring it back to life.

So, if you've been injured in Michigan by someone else's wrongdoing, one of the first things you need to know is: How long do I have to sue? We'll answer that question. We also explain some situations when the filing deadline might be extended, giving you more time to sue. We close with a review of the consequences for missing the statute of limitations in your case.

Michigan's General Rule: Three Years to Sue for Personal Injury

As a general rule, you have three years to file a Michigan personal injury lawsuit. (Mich. Comp. Laws § 600.5805(2) (2024).) Unless a more specific rule says otherwise, the three-year clock starts ticking on the date of the act that causes your injury. (Mich. Comp. Laws § 600.5827 (2024).) In most cases, this means you have three years from the date you were injured to sue.

This three-year general rule applies to lawsuits involving:

Other Statutes of Limitations for Specific Personal Injury Cases

Michigan's general rule doesn't cover all personal injury lawsuits. More specific statutes of limitations provide deadlines in other PI cases. Here are some common examples.

Medical Malpractice

Lots of special rules—including case filing deadlines—apply to medical malpractice claims. Usually, the deadline to file a medical malpractice suit is two years. (Mich. Comp. Laws § 600.5805(8) (2024).) The limitation period begins running on the date of the malpractice. (Mich. Comp. Laws § 600.5838a(1) (2024).)

Mich. Comp. Laws § 600.5838a(2) (2024) gives you more time to file if:

  • you don't discover the malpractice within the two year filing period
  • the malpractice is fraudulently concealed from you, or
  • permanent injury to a reproductive organ leaves you unable to procreate.

(Learn more about Michigan medical malpractice laws.)

Intentional Injuries

Most personal injuries happen when someone's negligence (carelessness) causes harm. Of course, intentional misconduct also can lead to injuries. The law calls these "intentional torts." In Michigan, most lawsuits for the intentional torts of assault, battery, and false imprisonment must be filed within two years. (Mich. Comp. Laws § 600.5805(3) (2024).)

The deadline is extended to 10 years for victims of criminal sexual conduct. (Mich. Comp. Laws § 600.5805(6) (2024).) It's five years for someone who's assaulted or battered by a current or former spouse or a person with whom they:

  • have a child
  • have lived, or
  • have or have had a dating relationship.

(Mich. Comp. Laws § 600.5805(4)-(5) (2024).)

Dangerous or Defective Products

Mich. Comp. Laws § 600.5805(12) (2024) gives you three years to file a product liability lawsuit when you're hurt by a dangerous or defective product.


Be prepared to act quickly if someone makes false written (libel) or spoken (slander) statements of fact about you that harm your reputation or standing within the community. Under Mich. Comp. Laws § 600.5805(11) (2024), you have just one year to sue for defamation of character.

Can the Statute of Limitations Deadline Be Extended?

In a few situations, yes, Michigan extends the filing deadline, giving you more time to sue. These extensions are exceptions to the statute of limitations rules, meaning it's your job to prove you're entitled to more time. Most often, you'll get strong opposition from the defendant (the party you're suing). Hire an experienced lawyer to represent you and make your arguments to the court.

Legal Disability

Legal disabilities prevent a person from managing their own legal affairs—like filing a lawsuit—without help from a parent or legal guardian. In Michigan, minors (younger than 18 years old) and "insane" persons are considered legally disabled. They have one year from the date their disability is "removed" to file a personal injury suit. (Mich. Comp. Laws § 600.5851(1) (2024).)

Defendant Absent From Michigan

If the defendant is outside of Michigan when you're injured, or leaves Michigan after you've been injured and is away for more than two months, the deadline clock doesn't run while the defendant is away. Note, importantly, that this extension applies only when the defendant's absence from Michigan prevents you from serving them with your lawsuit. If there's a way you can serve them while they're away from Michigan, the clock keeps running. (Mich. Comp. Laws § 600.5853 (2024).)

Fraudulent Concealment

Sometimes, the defendant will try to conceal your claim from you in order to avoid a lawsuit. Mich. Comp. Laws § 600.5855 (2024) anticipates this sort of misbehavior.

When the defendant fraudulently conceals your personal injury claim, or the identity of a person who is legally responsible for your claim, you get more time to file your case. Specifically, you've got two years from the date you discover or should have discovered your claim or the responsible person's identity to sue.

What If You Miss the Filing Deadline?

Think you've missed the statute of limitations deadline to file your PI case, or that the deadline is about to expire? First things first. Don't panic. Contact an experienced Michigan personal injury lawyer, immediately. You want to know:

  • what the statute of limitations is for your case
  • whether the filing deadline has passed or is about to pass, and
  • if the deadline has passed, whether there's an extension that might give you more time.

If the lawyer tells you there's a good faith basis to claim that you have more time to sue, it might be worth a shot to file suit and see what happens.

On the other hand, when the statute of limitations has run out and there's no possible extension to be had, you're out of luck. In the eyes of the law, you have no legal claim. Try to file a lawsuit and the court will dismiss it as untimely. Worse still, the court might sanction (penalize) you for filing a frivolous action.

You won't do any better if you're still trying to negotiate a settlement of your claim without having filed a court case. Because your legal claim is dead, you don't have a credible threat of a lawsuit to back you up. Without any way to force the defendant or their insurance company to pay you, you have no negotiating leverage. They simply won't take you or your case seriously.

Get Help With Your Statute of Limitations Questions

Statutes of limitations are among the most confusing and difficult of all laws. Trying to navigate your way through filing deadline issues alone is a bit like trying to cross a busy highway while blindfolded. A mistake can be devastating, and you probably won't know you've erred until its too late.

Don't take needless chances. Hire a PI lawyer to guide you along the way. When you're ready to move forward, here's how you can find an attorney near you.

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