Medical Malpractice Laws in Michigan, Explained

Published on May 1st, 2019

Medical Malpractice Laws in Michigan Explained Article by Thurswell LawEach state can make its own laws regarding different types of legal claims, including medical malpractice lawsuits. Michigan law has many different provisions and requirements for patients seeking to hold doctors liable for medical errors. If you fail to comply with the law, you can lose your right to compensation. It is essential to have the help of an experienced Michigan attorney who knows how to ensure compliance with the law and preserve your rights.

The following is a brief explanation of Michigan medical malpractice laws. To discuss your specific circumstances, contact our office to discuss your options.

Statute of Limitations

Michigan does not give people an indefinite amount of time to file a legal claim. The law recognizes that potential defendants should not have to live with concern about a lawsuit for years in the future. In addition, evidence of liability can deteriorate and disappear over time. For these reasons, our state law sets a two-year statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims.

The two-year time period begins to run when the doctor made the mistake that caused your injuries. Generally speaking, if you received the improper treatment in April 2018, you would have until April 2020 to prepare and file your claim. There are important exceptions, however, that apply in rare cases.

First, the discovery rule may apply if your malpractice-related injury was not immediately obvious. Some patients do not realize they have an injury until months or even years later. For instance, if a surgeon accidentally left a sponge or other surgical tools inside a patient, the patient has no way of knowing until they start experiencing symptoms or complications, which can take time. Once a patient discovers an injury, they then have six months to file a claim, even if the two-year statute of limitations already expired.

There is a six-year statute of respose, however, which prevents a patient from filing a claim more than six years after the malpractice, even if they did not discover the injuries for six years. This statute of repose does not apply to the following situations:

  • The doctor used fraudulent means to try to cover up the malpractice
  • The malpractice resulted in permanent injuries to the reproductive system and the loss of procreating abilities
  • The malpractice victim was a minor child younger than 15

Because of the complex exceptions and the possibility of losing your right to compensation, you should discuss the statute of limitations that applies in your case with a skilled lawyer as soon as possible.

Notice Requirements

Unlike other personal injury claims, you cannot head directly to court and file a complaint as your first step in a medical malpractice case. Instead, you must provide the doctor or other medical providers involved with proper notice of your intention to file a claim. You must provide them with written notice within 182 before you file a lawsuit. The notice must include certain information and elements, and the doctor has the opportunity to respond with defenses or settle the case before you file a lawsuit.

If you decide that filing a claim is necessary, you must include an affidavit of merit from a qualified medical expert in the same field as the doctor who engaged in malpractice. The law requires that experts have specific qualifications and meet certain criteria to give their opinion in a malpractice case. If you fail to provide notice as required or do not provide an affidavit with your complaint, you can lose your chance to obtain compensation.

Damage Caps

As part of your claim, you must state the damages you seek to cover for your losses, which may include past and future medical costs, lost wages, and noneconomic damages for pain and suffering. There is no limit on the economic losses you can claim, as long as you can prove them. However, Michigan does limit noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases, and the damage caps are regularly updated by the state government to account for inflation. The limits for 2019 are as follows:

  • $465,900 maximum
  • $832,000 maximum if any of the following apply:
    • A brain or spinal injury caused paralysis and the loss of at least one limb
    • The injury resulted in the loss of reproductive functioning
    • The injury resulted in cognitive impairments preventing the victims from living independently or alter their daily lives

In some personal injury claims, courts may award punitive damages to victims if the defendant acted in a particularly egregious or purposeful manner. However, Michigan law prohibits punitive damages in medical malpractice cases.

Identifying Medical Negligence

Michigan law also makes it clear that a healthcare provider must breach their requisite standard of care in order to commit malpractice. This means that before you file a claim, you should be sure you have a cause of action. This is one reason why a claim requires medical expert testimony filed with the petition. If you want to arbitrate the matter, it first must go under review of the state mediation panel for a formal evaluation.

Medical negligence can occur in many ways, including:

  • Misdiagnosis
  • Failure to diagnose a condition
  • Medication errors
  • Surgical errors
  • Anesthesia errors
  • Birth injuries
  • Early discharge or release from the hospital

When another doctor in the field could have easily made the same error, your medical provider should not be liable for malpractice. It takes the analysis of medical experts and your legal team to determine whether the doctor acted in line with the standard of care or acted negligently.

Consult a Michigan Medical Malpractice Attorney You Can Trust

The civil justice process in Michigan is always complicated with many applicable laws involved. Medical malpractice claims can be even more complex than other types of personal injury cases. It is critical to have the right lawyer on your side from the very beginning to ensure you follow all criteria and requirements for a successful claim under Michigan law.

At Thurswell Law, our experienced legal team handles all types of injury claims, including representing victims of medical malpractice. Contact us online or call (248) 354-2222 to set up a free appointment to discuss your rights today.

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