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Why Were Michigan’s Medical Malpractice Damage Caps Changed in 2020?

As of January 30 2020 the Department of Treasury revised the Medical Malpractice Damage Caps in Michigan. Michigan caps for medical malpractice lawsuits are complex compared to other states. If you plan to file a medical negligence claim in the state of Michigan, hire Cochran Kroll, & Associates, P.C. for legal advice and support.

What is a Medical Malpractice Damage Cap?

Limits or caps were implemented in approximately half of states in America as part of tort reform and are now state law. Damage caps vary from state-to-state, and in some states, they were successfully challenged as unconstitutional and abolished. In most cases, they are changed every year – usually in January.

Caps on damages in medical malpractice cases can apply to the total amount of damages (umbrella cap), non-economic damages or economic damages. Some include punitive damages, while others do not.

Economic damages include any medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, lost wages, or lost opportunities resulting from an injury that you’ve suffered as a result of medical negligence. This may include past medical care, ongoing medical care, and any other measurable financial losses or expenses.

Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, anxiety, emotional distress, loss of consortium, and loss of society and companionship all of which can affect the quality of life. These are considered more difficult to prove, as they are less tangible.

Michigan’s Medical Malpractice Cap

First established in 1993, and originally capped at $280,000 in damages awarded to injured patients, the cap in Michigan applies to non-economic damages only. This is described in the Michigan Compiled Laws section 600.1483.

In January 2020, the upper cap for non-economic damages was adjusted to $842,500, while the lower cap was changed to $471,000 in line with the consumer price index.

This higher cap applies to a range of circumstances, where a patient suffers catastrophic injuries or permanent damage to a vital organ, for example:

  • Permanent cognitive impairment, which effectively renders the patient unable to make independent life decisions or perform activities of daily living independently.
  • Paralysis resulting from damage to the brain or spinal cord.
  • Damage to reproductive organs resulting in the inability to procreate.

In the event of the death of a patient, it will become a wrongful death suit. A settlement is achieved during wrongful death cases and is divided among family members.

For product liability, the same caps apply, extended in the case of death or permanent loss of a vital body organ.

In addition, Michigan provides for economic losses that cannot be calculated by the trier of fact, to be based on the average median family income as adjusted by the state treasurer, now set for 2020 at $74,701.

How Michigan Compares to Other States

There are 27 states with Medical Malpractice Caps, the highest being Virginia at $2.85 million, and the lowest being Texas, which limits damages to a $250,000 cap per provider.

Some states, like Massachusetts, caps the damages but lifts it entirely for particularly debilitating injuries. Nebraska includes a provision to lift caps if the defendant’s malpractice caused by an intentional act, gross negligence or malice. Tennessee increases the cap for catastrophic events.

Why do States Impose Medical Malpractice Caps?

Nothing in life is for free, and in the end no matter what the award, someone must pay for it. In most cases, this falls to the insurance companies, who will recover the high payouts by increasing all their customers’ premiums.

Extraordinarily large awards can negatively affect the local state economy through the knock-on effects of these payments.

Why Hire a Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Michigan?

Medical malpractice cases can be challenging to tackle alone. If you want the highest maximum damages award possible, a medical malpractice lawyer in Michigan represents your best option. With the knowledge to build a case that is successful, a medical negligence attorney can help you secure the compensation you deserve.

Contact Cochran, Kroll & Associates P.C.

If you live in Michigan, and you’re a victim of medical malpractice, call Eileen Kroll, a registered nurse and personal injury trial attorney, at Cochran, Kroll & Associates P.C., at (866)-868-3779 for a free evaluation of your case and further assistance.

As a member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Eileen devotes her time and resources to fight for victim’s rights. She works tirelessly to maximize the outcome of each case.

Oscar Harris is a professional legal blogger who writes about medical malpractice laws to raise awareness of the rights of those who have been injured personally or those who have lost a family member due to medical malpractice.

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