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Damages – An Important Element of a Michigan Medical Malpractice Claim

June 19, 2023

Patients who suffer injury because of a medical providers’ carelessness or negligence may incur a range of undue expenses. These may include the expense of additional treatment required because of their injuries; the cost of their future related-health care needs; and lost wages. By pursuing a medical malpractice action, an injured patient may be awarded economic damages. These include their already-incurred losses and potential future expenses.

A patient may suffer an injury or worsened medical conditions that’s not tangible, which makes it hard to assign a financial value to them. These types of non-economic damages include:

  • Pain and suffering;
  • Disfigurement;
  • Disability;
  • The loss of quality of life; and
  • The loss of consortium or companionship.

Medical malpractice claims frequently are unable to be pursued because it doesn’t make economic sense. One important factor in the analysis is the cap on non-economic damages. A medical malpractice case can be very expensive to put together, organize and prepare (for example, expert witness fees for physicians can be $500-1000 per hour). Another factor is whether a plaintiff has an economic claim (i.e., a person who is retired doesn’t have wage loss). In addition, health insurers may assert a lien on any recovery.

Michigan Limits on Non-Economic Damages For Medical Malpractice Claims

Non-economic damages are defined in Michigan as “damages or loss due to pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, or physical disfigurement, loss of society and companionship, whether claimed under section 2922 or otherwise, loss of consortium, or other noneconomic loss.”

Every year the State of Michigan Department of Treasury adjusts the limitations “to reflect the cumulative annual percentage change in the consumer price index.” The state legislature limits the amount recoverable for non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases and is found in MCL § 600.1483.

On January 31, 2023, the upper-cap for non-economic damages was upped to $960,500 (from $887,500 in 2022). The lower cap for non-economic damages was increased to $537,900 (from $497,000 in 2022).

The statute provides that a plaintiff is entitled to the upper-cap for non-economic damages if the plaintiff can establish that they suffered one of the following injuries as a result of the alleged medical malpractice:

  1. The plaintiff is hemiplegic, paraplegic, or quadriplegic resulting in a total permanent functional loss of one or more limbs caused by a brain or spinal cord injury; or
  2. The plaintiff has permanently impaired cognitive capacity rendering them incapable of making independent, responsible life decisions and permanently incapable of independently performing the activities of normal, daily living; or
  3. There’s been permanent loss of or damage to a reproductive organ resulting in the inability to procreate.

Plaintiffs with injuries that don’t fall into one of these categories are entitled to the lower-cap for non-economic damage.

Contact us!

If you’ve been seriously injured as a result of a doctor or healthcare facility’s mistake, you need to understand the types of recoverable damages in a medical malpractice action—as well as the cap on noneconomic damages in Michigan.

For a free consultation with an experienced injury attorney in Grand Rapids, contact Buchanan Firm. We can discuss your situation if you believe you’ve been injured as the result of a physician or healthcare facility error.

Our medical malpractice lawyers in Grand Rapids proudly serve people all across Michigan, including major cities like Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Detroit, Lansing, Holland, St. Joe, and Ann Arbor, and rural towns such as Lowell, Ada, Fremont, Newaygo, Grand Haven, Rockford, and Cedar Springs. We will meet you after-hours, at home or in the hospital to accommodate you.