Michigan Medical Malpractice Law - An Overview
By Aaron Larson
Important Notice: The following overview of Michigan's medical malpractice laws is presented on an as-is basis. This information is believed accurate as of the date of authorship, but is not intended to provide a complete analysis of medical malpractice law and may not reflect subsequent changes in the law. For a full review of Michigan's medical malpractice law, or for a determination of how the law applies to a specific incident or injury, please consult a malpractice lawyer licensed to practice in the state of Michigan.
- What Is Medical Malpractice
- Limits on Malpractice Damages
- Collateral Source Rule
- Rules for Expert Witnesses
- Joint and Several Liability
- Statute of Limitations
- Limits on Attorney Fees
- Additional Rules
- Why Use A Malpractice Lawyer
Medical malpractice, sometimes referred to as medical negligence, occurs when a health care provider violates the governing standard of care when providing treatment to a patient, causing the patient to suffer an injury. Medical malpractice can result from an action taken by the medical practitioner, or by the failure to take a medically appropriate action. Examples of medical malpractice include:
- Misdiagnosis of, or failure to diagnose , a disease or medical condition;
- Failure to provide appropriate treatment for a medical condition;
- Unreasonable delay in treating a diagnosed medical condition;
Medical malpractice actions can be brought by the injured patient against any responsible licensed health care provider, including doctors, counselors, psychologists and psychotherapists.
Non-economic damages for malpractice are limited to $500,000.00, subject to annual adjustment for inflation.
Under a traditional collateral source rule, a defendant may not seek to reduce its liability by introducing evidence that the plaintiff has received compensation from other sources, such as the plaintiff's own insurance coverage. For medical malpractice cases in Michigan, after a verdict there is mandatory offset for payments from collateral sources other than life insurance proceeds.
An expert in a medical malpractice case must be a licensed health care professional, who specialized at the time of the occurrence underlying the complaint in the same specialty as the defendant. If the defendant is board certified, the expert witness must be board certified in the same specialty.
Under a traditional rule of joint and several liability, where more than one defendant is found liable for the injury suffered by a plaintiff, each defendant is individually liable for the entire amount of the judgment, such that if one defendant is unable to pay the other defendant or defendants are liable for the entire amount of the judgment. In Michigan, defendants are severally liable for damages in proportion to their degree of fault, except where a defendant is insolvent in which case that defendant's share of damages is reallocated among the other defendants.
Actions for medical malpractice must be filed within two years of the injury, or within six months of discovery to a maximum of six years following the date of the act or omission giving rise to the injury. For medical malpractice cases involving a minor under eight years of age, the statute begins to run on the minor's 10th birthday or within the two-year medical malpractice statute of limitations, whichever time period is greater. Where a minor under 13 suffers an injury to the reproductive system, the statute begins to run on the minor's 15th birthday or within the general two-year statute of limitations, whichever time period is greater.
Contingent attorney fees are restricted to 1/3 of the recovery in personal injury cases.
Michigan requires a pretrial case evaluation, the results of which are not admissible at trial.
Medical malpractice law is a highly technical field of law, and malpractice lawsuits tend to be fiercely defended by well-funded defense firms.
Medical malpractice lawsuits can be exceptionally expensive to pursue, with costs often exceeding $100,000.00. Due to the technical skills involved in prosecuting a malpractice claim, the possibility that an inexperienced lawyer may not be sufficiently conversant with the medical issues, or might make a technical error which causes a case to be lost or dismissed, and the very high costs the malpractice law firm typically must advance, an injured patient is very well served by going with a specialist firm.
Even within the specialized practice of medical malpractice law, you will find that some lawyers have subspecialties of practice, for example focusing on surgical errors, misdiagnosis, or birth trauma cases.
Copyright © 2003-2011 Aaron Larson. All rights reserved. No portion of this article may be reproduced without the express written permission of the copyright holder. If you believe you may lawfully use a quotation, excerpt or paraphrase of this article under the Fair Use exception to copyright law, except as otherwise authorized by the author of the article, you must cite this article as a source for your work and include a link back to the original article from any online materials that incorporate or are derived from the content of this article.