Michigan medical malpractice law was set by the state legislature in April 1994 and governs instances of medical negligence that have happened since that time.
Statute of Limitations
A patient must file a lawsuit within 2 years of the act or omission by a medical practitioner that caused harm to the patient. If an injury is not found until up to 6 years later, the patient must then bring the suit within 6 months of that discovery. If an injury is found more than 6 years later, the statute of limitations applies, and the patient cannot file a medical malpractice lawsuit.
A defendant in a medical malpractice lawsuit is financially liable to the degree that the court determines he can be held at fault for the injury. The responsibility for paying any damages to the plaintiff is distributed among all the liable parties in proportion to their degree of fault in causing the injury.
If the plaintiff has a degree of fault for the injury, the compensatory and punitive damages are reduced proportionally. In the case that the plaintiff is held to be the party most at fault for the injury, any recovery of punitive or noneconomic damages is forbidden.
Under the doctrine of ostensible agency, a hospital may be held responsible for neglect committed by a medical practitioner who it does not directly employ. Whether the hospital is found liable for that neglect depends on if the patient viewed himself as getting treated by the hospital or if he thought he was being treated by a medical practitioner who just happened to use the hospital’s facilities.
Michigan state law does limit the amount of noneconomic or punitive damages that a judge or jury may award a plaintiff who has suffered from neglect by a doctor or other medical practitioner. The law caps noneconomic damages at $280,000 for each claimant.
A successful plaintiff is also restricted in the amount compensation for attorney’s fees that he may collect. The law stipulates that attorney’s fees cannot exceed more than one third of the total compensatory and punitive damages awarded to a claimant.
To give sworn testimony in medical malpractice lawsuits in Michigan courts, medical practitioners must meet stringent criteria. To qualify, the prospective expert witness must be licensed and hold a board certification for his area of specialty. The witness’s specialty must be relevant to the injury that the plaintiff claims to have suffered.
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