There are two types of damages: economic and non-economic. Economic damages can be calculated and include past and future lost wages, and past and future medical care. In Michigan, there is no cap on economic damages, meaning that if an individual is making a million dollars a year and has a 30-year work expectancy, then they could claim $30 million.
Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, disfigurement or disability, loss of the quality of life, and for a spouse, loss of consortium and companionship. In Michigan, non-economic damages are capped at $445,500. There is an exception to that for catastrophic damages, such as quadriplegia or severe brain damage caused by the incident. In those cases and in some wrongful death cases, the non-economic damages can be as high as $795,500. There is an escalation that happens every year, and I am not sure how high the ultimate amount could be, but that’s what it is currently.
From an economic standpoint, all potential damages can be covered. However, there has to be sufficient insurance coverage or sufficient assets in order for actual recovery of those damages to be realistic. For example, if someone sues a doctor who has a one-million-dollar policy and the economic damages are three million, then the claimant would have to find a way to collect the difference, which can be problematic—especially if there is a large judgment against the doctor, and the doctor goes bankrupt as a result.
Is There A Cap On Medical Malpractice Awards In Michigan?
In Michigan, the cap for non-economic damages (e.g. pain and suffering, disfigurement and disability, loss of the quality of life, loss of consortium and companionship) is capped at $445,500 except in cases where there is a catastrophic injury or death, where the cap is $795,500. There is no cap on economic damages in Michigan.
What Steps Should Someone Take If They Believe They’ve Been A Victim Of Medical Malpractice?
Anyone who thinks they may have been the victim of medical malpractice should not hesitate to take action, because there are limitations with regard to when a person can file a lawsuit. Individuals should contact a lawyer who is experienced and who regularly handles medical malpractice cases, because these types of cases are very different than regular auto accident or slip-and-fall cases. It would also be a good idea to gather medical records, because the standards for bringing a malpractice case are very strict, meaning that the victim must show exactly what the negligence was, what damages were caused by it, and how the damages are related to the negligence. This is done by a review of the medical records and by getting an expert witness to determine whether the defendant breached the standard of care. In Michigan, the expert must be from the same medical specialty and must hold the same certifications as the defendant who is being sued.
Is There Ever A Reason To Wait To File A Medical Malpractice Claim?
If the injury is one that is going to heal in a relatively short period of time, then it may not pay economically to proceed with the malpractice claim. By the same token, an individual would be better off speaking to a lawyer who is experienced in that, and letting them guide them as to whether or not to proceed.
What Is The Statute Of Limitations For Bringing A Medical Malpractice Claim In Michigan?
The statute of limitations is a complicated thing in any state, but especially in Michigan. Essentially, an individual has to bring the claim within two years of the date of the negligent act, or within six months from the date that they should have discovered the negligent act. At that point, the claim has to be brought within six years of the date of negligence. For example, if someone had a hip replacement (which can require a lot of rehabilitation), and if a couple of years down the line that person collapses and discovers that the hip was put in the wrong position, then they would have six months from that time of discovery to file a claim. It’s surprising how many people continue to treat even when they should know that something is wrong; often, people don’t discover it until they change doctors.
A different statute of limitations applies for cases involving victims who are under the age of eight. For a child, a malpractice claim can be filed up until the age of 10. For a wrongful death claim, the statute of limitations is two years from the date that the personal representative is appointed, and not more than three years from the expiration of the regular statute of limitations.
If the victim is a VA patient who wants to sue the VA, then they have to do so within two years of the date of the incident. However, they must file a federal tort claim, which is handled in the federal court with no jury. This is a different type of claim altogether, and the statute of limitations is controlled by federal rather than state law. Additionally, a notice of intent to sue must be filed 182 days before filing an actual complaint in court. When the notice of intent to sue is filed, that stops the statute of limitations for that period of time.
For more information on Medical Malpractice in Michigan, Call Medical Malpractice Law Attorney Robert Spector to schedule an initial consultation: (248) 266-7600.