Litigating Medical Negligence Cases in Michigan
The litigation proceedings involving a medical malpractice lawsuit are complex, lengthy, and have several phases which can allow for a settlement without trial as the process moves from inception to the end. Because of this, it is crucial to employ the services of a competent malpractice attorney at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. who can guide you toward a fair settlement or represent you at a trial in your medical negligence cases.
The term malpractice refers to the negligence of a health care professional or organization who does not maintain the appropriate standard of care as would be expected in a normal doctor and patient relationship. The patient must be prepared to establish that the expected reasonable care was breached, and it was not provided. What is reasonable is what an average trained medical professional would have done under the same or similar circumstances.
In addition, the patient must also be able to prove there was an injury directly related to the negligence. If a connection cannot be established, then the lawsuit will have no grounds and you will not have a medical malpractice claim. As a result, litigation means more than just going to trial. There are steps to be taken before the lawsuit is even filed.
First Steps and Before the Lawsuit
Before the lawsuit is filed in Michigan, the plaintiff (patient) must inform the defendant (doctor) that he intends to sue. This is known as the Notice of Intent (NOI) and must include the facts of the claim, the standard of care that was breached, the actions that should have been taken to avoid the breach, and the details behind how the lack of care caused the injury. The defendant (s) have 154 days to respond to the NOI, and once that response is received by the plaintiff, he has to wait 183 days to file a lawsuit. The purpose of the waiting period is to give the insurance company and the plaintiff time to reach a settlement without a lawsuit or trial.
The Lawsuit is Filed
The lawsuit actually begins when the plaintiff files a Complaint which details the allegations against the medical professional. The defendants have between 21 and 28 days to file a response and may include “affirmative defenses” rebutting the claim. The malpractice lawyer at our law firm will anticipate this, and be prepared to offer insights and suggestions to the plaintiff during this stage.
At this point, the Discovery period begins where both parties seek to review the evidence of the opposing side. During Discovery there are written depositions, examinations of witnesses, and the recording of the facts of the case. Fact witnesses, those people directly involved with the events are usually deposed first with expert witnesses like doctors or other medical personnel being deposed last.
The court cannot rule on an issue unless there is a motion to consider. During the Discovery period, there are many visits to the court to determine the scope of the Discovery. The purpose of this activity is to narrow down the issues that will eventually be considered at a trial. The Motions in Limine will dictate the admissibility of evidence in the trial.
Dispute Resolution and Trial
When the litigation process has moved this far, there is usually a second attempt to settle before trial. In this medical negligence cases, a mediator is appointed, and the sides present their arguments by reviewing the facts and considering the position of the opposing side. If a resolution cannot be reached, then the trial date will be set. However, even when the trial takes place, and a decision is rendered many times in post-trial motions either side may appeal until everything is finalized.
In Michigan, the litigation process for medical malpractice suits is a formula that encourages resolution before trial, but also maintains strict guidelines as the litigation process evolves. In our experience at the Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. law firm we believe in working closely with our clients to make sure they meet all the guidelines within the system and that they receive the most compensation warranted due to their injuries.
Contact us at 1-866-MICH-LAW (1-866-642-4529) for a free consultation and case evaluation