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What is Michigan’s Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice?

February 11, 2021

The statute of limitations is a law that provides the time limit on the right to bring a civil lawsuit to court. It is in effect, the “deadline” for beginning a legal action. Lawsuits initiated after the statute of limitations has run are barred as untimely. Typically, if the deadline has passed, and attempt is made to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, the defendant (physician, surgeon, nurse, clinic, or hospital) will file a motion with the court to dismiss the case. If granted, that will end your lawsuit.

That’s why it’s so important to understand which statute of limitations applies to your medical malpractice case.

What is Michigan’s Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice?

Michigan Statute § 600.5805(8) states that a medical malpractice lawsuit must be filed within two years of the health care provider’s action (or inaction) that gives rise to the claim. The deadline must be strictly enforced, Michigan courts have said, and ordinarily may not be extended even by a “single day.” However, there are some situations that can extend the time limit in a medical malpractice action:

The Discovery Rule. Michigan Statute § 600.5838(2) provides that an action involving a claim based on malpractice may be commenced within six months after the plaintiff discovers or should have discovered the existence of the claim, whichever is later.

Wrongful Death. Note that where the injuries result in a wrongful death and the two-year period of limitations for a Michigan medical malpractice action has expired, the personal representative of a decedent’s estate is provided additional time in which to file a lawsuit under the Michigan wrongful death saving statute. MCL § 600.5852 says that when a person dies before the period of limitations has run or within 30 days after the period of limitations has run, the personal representative may bring an action at any time within two years after letters of authority are issued, but no later than three years after the period of limitations has run.

There are some specific requirements in a medical malpractice lawsuit that require the expertise of an experienced and skilled Michigan medical malpractice attorney, including a Notice of Intent and an Affidavit of Merit.

“Notice of Intent”

Michigan medical malpractice law requires that your attorney give notice of a claim to the potential defendant(s) (the responsible physician, surgeon, nurse, clinic, or hospital). This legal document is a letter that states the issue and the reason you are bringing a lawsuit. The letter allows the defendant an opportunity to prepare for the lawsuit and determine the defenses.

The Notice of Intent to File Suit must be in writing and must be served upon all health care providers who will be sued. When you serve the Notice of Intent, it pauses or “tolls” the statute of limitations for 182 days. However, if the Notice of Intent is defective and doesn’t comply with the statutory requirements, the 182-day tolling period is void, and the claim may be dismissed if it’s filed beyond the deadline.

The formal complaint can’t be filed until this waiting period of 182 days has expired.

Affidavit of Merit

Another important requirement in the filing of a medical malpractice lawsuit in Michigan is that the plaintiff must submit an affidavit of merit when filing the lawsuit complaint. This is a legal document that states that the case has been reviewed and endorsed by a health care professional qualified under state law.

This medical expert must be a licensed health care professional practicing or teaching in the same specialty as the defendant physician. Moreover, the expert must have the same board certifications as the defendant.

The affidavit must include a statement that includes each of the following:

  • The applicable standard of care;
  • The health professional’s opinion that the applicable standard of care was breached by the defendant health professional or health facility;
  • What should have been done or not done by the health professional or health facility to have complied with the applicable standard of care; and
  • The way in which this breach of the standard of care was the proximate cause of the injury alleged in the Notice of Intent.

Takeaway

As you can see there are several complicated steps that must be taken—in the right order and on time—in a Michigan medical malpractice claim. Because of this, you should work with an experienced and skilled Michigan medical malpractice attorney.

If you or a loved one has suffered harm due to the negligence of a physician, surgeon, nurse, clinic, or hospital, you should speak with a medical malpractice attorney at Buchanan Firm. For a free consultation, contact us.

Our firm proudly serves people all across Michigan, including major cities like Grand Rapids, Lansing, Flint, Cadillac, Gaylord, Benton Harbor, Detroit, Novi, Sterling Heights, Muskegon 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.