Liable Parties in Medical Malpractice Cases

Published on June 21st, 2019

Liable Parties in Medical Malpractice CasesWhen people seek medical treatment, they expect their medical professionals to provide the best possible care. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. According to patient safety experts at Johns Hopkins, medical errors caused more than 250,000 deaths per year. They further stated that medical error is the third greatest cause of death in the United States.

What Is Medical Malpractice?

If a doctor, hospital or other health profession is negligent in the performance of his or her duties and thereby causes an injury to a patient, the act or omission may be considered medical malpractice. Medical professionals are expected to meet the accepted standard of care. The accepted standard of care is the generally accepted practices used to treat patients suffering from a particular disorder or illness. The accepted standard of care depends on many factors, such as medical history, age, and general health.

Common Types of Medical Malpractice

Medical errors happen in all kinds of ways, including errors in treatment, health management or aftercare. Common categories of medical malpractice claims include:

  • If a doctor fails to diagnose a patient, and that failure causes an injury, the patient has a medical malpractice claim.
  • If a doctor incorrectly diagnosed the patient, such as diagnosing the wrong condition, and the patient would have had a better outcome if correctly diagnosed, the patient has grounds for a medical malpractice claim.
  • The duty of informed consent means that doctors must warn patients of the risks associated with treatment. If the patient is harmed by the failure to warn, the patient has a medical malpractice claim.

Legal Elements of Medical Malpractice

The elements of medical malpractice in Michigan are largely similar to medical malpractice laws in other states. To establish medical malpractice, you must show that:

  • The doctor and patient had a relationship: Simply going to a doctor for medical care means that there was a doctor-patient relationship between you and the doctor or other healthcare professional.
  • The doctor was negligent: You must prove that the doctor was negligent in your care, that the negligence harmed you, and that a competent doctor would not have caused the harm. If you are just unhappy with your treatment or the results, that is not medical malpractice.
  • The negligence of the doctor directly caused the injury: Medical malpractice cases are complicated because the cases generally involve patients who are sick or injured. Therefore, the question arises of whether the doctor’s negligence caused the harm. Most cases require an expert medical witness to testify.
  • The injury led to specific damages: These are damages such as medical bills, physical pain, mental anguish, or lost work and wages.

Michigan Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Claims

Michigan sets strict limits on the amount of time you have to file a claim. If you exceed that time limit, you cannot file a claim—so please do not delay in calling a lawyer. Your attorney can advise you as to the applicable laws.

Notice and Expert Requirements

To begin a medical malpractice case in Michigan, you must file a Notice of Intent to File Suit (NOI). The Notice of Intent must be written and must be served upon the other party at least 182 days before the lawsuit is filed. An NOI that meets all of the statutory requirements will pause the statute of limitations for 182 days. Michigan law also requires that the person suing for medical malpractice (the plaintiff) submit an affidavit of merit signed by a qualified healthcare professional.

The affidavit of merit must include the standard of care, a statement that the defendant breached the standard of care, what actions the defendant should have taken to avoid a breach of the standard of care and how the breach caused the plaintiff’s injuries. The defendant or defendants must file a response to the affidavit.

In Michigan Medical Malpractice Cases, Who Is Responsible?

There are many professionals and even organizations that may be liable in medical malpractice cases. In Michigan, an injured person can bring a medical malpractice lawsuit against a health care provider. That includes a variety of medical-relation positions, including medicine, nursing, chiropractic, counseling, dentistry, optometry, osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, physical and occupational therapy, and psychology, just to name a few.

In medical malpractice cases, as long as the patient is not to blame, the liable defendants are jointly and severally liable for the entire verdict. Therefore, the injured party may be able to collect the entire amount from one or all of the parties.

What Damages Can You Recover in Medical Malpractice Cases?

When your medical malpractice claim is successfully completed, you will receive compensation. In general, Michigan law provides two types of damages: economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages are intended to compensate the injured person and restore them to the condition in which they were before the injury. Economic damages usually include medical expenses, lost income and benefits, and other monetary damages. Non-economic damages are for intangible losses, so they are harder to weigh. These may include disfigurement, pain and suffering, and other types of mental distress.

There are no punitive damages in Michigan medical malpractice cases. Instead, the law permits exemplary damages to compensate the injured party due to particularly reprehensible behavior on the part of the defendant. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can help you determine what damages may be appropriate in your case.

Do You Have a Medical Malpractice Claim?

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury or death due to a medical error, speak with a lawyer as soon as possible. Our compassionate, experienced personal injury lawyers will work zealously to protect your rights and obtain the best possible outcome. For more information or a free consultation, contact us at Thurswell Law online or call (248) 354-2222.


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