Michigan Medical Malpractice Lawyers
Medical malpractice lawsuits present some of the greatest challenges in the law for both clients and lawyers alike. Recent insurance company and medical lobby reforms have made medical malpractice claims much harder and more expensive to bring forward. More importantly, there are caps on the amount that can be recovered for pain and suffering, which may drastically limit the most severely injured patient’s right to recover.
Making a Medical Malpractice Claim
Nearly any claim brought against a medical professional must be treated as a medical malpractice claim under Michigan law. Before a lawsuit can even start, the medical professional and/or hospital must be given six month’s advance notice describing the claim in impeccable detail, often before the patient has had access to witnesses who know the details of what really happened.
Expert testimony must almost always be obtained from out-of-state since physicians and other medical professionals are reluctant to testify against local colleagues.
Caps on Damages
Medical malpractice law in Michigan is especially unfair when it comes to the most severely injured plaintiffs because the law says that, except in rare cases, the maximum that can be recovered for pain and suffering is $433,400 (as of 2013). Some catastrophic injuries or injuries to the ability to have children bring a higher cap ($774,000), but those are rare.
When a loved one dies as a result of medical malpractice, the entire family combined can only recover the lower cap, meaning that they must all share in a single recovery that cannot exceed the capped amount of $433,400 or $774,000. Fortunately, there is no cap on economic loss, so medical expenses and lost earnings arising from the malpractice can be recovered without a cap on the amount.
Many lawyers who used to handle medical malpractice cases have simply stopped due to the difficulty and expense in relation to the amount that can be recovered. Our firm continues to handle these cases successfully, working with top experts throughout the country, to prove that what was done to the patient was wrong and should be compensated.
What must be proven in a medical malpractice case
In every medical malpractice case, the victim must be able to prove two things:
- The doctor or other medical professional failed to follow established standards for providing medical care and;
- The mistakes that the doctor or other medical professional made were a significant cause of harm.
The second point is particularly important. Many times clients will present situations to us in which it is clear that the doctor made a medical mistake – but is by no means clear that, had the doctor handled the case properly, the patient would have had a successful outcome. This is especially true in cases of failure to diagnose cancer. Proving that an earlier diagnosis would have saved the patient can be very challenging.
Statutes of Limitation
There are important time limits relative to medical malpractice cases that potential medical malpractice victims should be aware of. A medical malpractice claim must be brought within two years of the date that the malpractice is thought to have occurred, or, if that time has already passed, within six months of the first date that the patient could have reasonably discovered they may have a claim.
In other kinds of cases, minors have until their 19th birthday to sue, but in medical malpractice claims a child has the same time limit as an adult. A child injured when they were younger than eight-years-old – for example, through a birth injury – has until his or her 10th birthday to bring the claim.
Certain kinds of injuries can provide somewhat more time. In cases of death, so long as the time for suing had not already expired more than 30 days before the death occurred, a personal representative of the decedent’s estate can sue for up to two years after the personal representative is appointed.
There are other complicated, but important exceptions, which is why it is crucial that you discuss your potential claim with a medical malpractice attorney, even if you believe the time to sue may have expired. One of these exceptions could potentially save your claim.
Longevity of a Medical Malpractice Case
Medical malpractice cases can take a considerable amount of time to develop and bring to a conclusion. It can often be a lengthy process just to collect the medical records necessary to fully analyze the claim. Experts need to be consulted, sometimes in several medical fields. Before a lawsuit can even be started, a detailed notice of claim must be filed with the defendants, after which the defendants have a six-month period of time to investigate the claim and approach the plaintiff for settlement.
Unfortunately, medical malpractice settlements never occur in this phase. In the overwhelming majority of cases, it is necessary to file suit. Different judges in different courts have their own timetables; some cases may be moved to trial in as quickly as a year, but 18 to 24 months is more common. Complex cases with multiple parties make scheduling much more difficult. The more people who are involved in scheduling, the more common scheduling conflicts are that cause even greater delays. For all these reasons, it is not uncommon for malpractice case to take from two to three years to reach a conclusion.
If you believe you have are a medical malpractice victim, please contact the Michigan civil litigation attorneys at Seikaly, Stewart & Bennett immediately. Timing is crucial in these cases due to the varying statutes of limitation. Call 248-785-0102 or fill out our contact form to arrange your no-obligation consultation.