Did you know medical negligence is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. and a top contributor to lifelong injuries? When a doctor makes a mistake, patients like you are the ones who suffer.
If you’re injured due to medical malpractice, you begin to wonder what you can do to limit the impact on your life. Suddenly, you have persistent pain, physical disabilities, limited mobility, daily stress, and medical bills piling up. You might even be forced to leave your job or buy a new home that suits your disability. Now what?
A medical malpractice lawsuit seeks to compensate you for the damage you have suffered and allow you to move forward with confidence. Healthcare providers carry huge insurance policies for exactly this reason: to pay for their mistakes.
Of course, you’ll need a caring, talented, and assertive medical malpractice lawyer who can stand up for your rights and secure the compensation you deserve. Lee Free and the Michigan medical malpractice experts at Steinberg Law Firm give you a bold legal voice. We help you hold the healthcare provider and their insurance company liable for what happened to you.
Need Answers About Medical Malpractice? We’re Here to Help.
Maybe you never thought you’d need the help of a Michigan malpractice lawyer. You never thought you’d sue someone, let alone a doctor or hospital. We understand how you feel. People tell us the same thing all the time.
But don’t hesitate to hold the right people responsible. Your dignity and your quality of life depend upon the resources you can gather at this critical turning point in your life.
We’re here to help you. Please call Lee Free and Michigan medical malpractice lawyers at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) or fill out the free case evaluation form so we can answer any questions you have about Michigan medical malpractice law. You pay nothing until we win your case.
What is Medical Malpractice?
All medical doctors start their careers by making an ethical pledge known as the Hippocratic oath. It begins, “First, do no harm,” yet many doctors still end up harming their patients. When the harm arises from negligence, it is called medical malpractice.
The National Institutes of Health defines medical malpractice as any “act or omission by a physician during treatment of a patient that deviates from accepted norms of practice in the medical community and causes an injury to the patient.” This is commonly known as failing to provide the medical “standard of care.”
In the legal world, the standard of care is what a reasonably competent healthcare provider with similar training and experience would do under the same or similar circumstances. If a medical professional does something – or fails to do something – and it can be proven that they thereby failed to meet the standard, it may be ruled medical malpractice.
Here’s something important to understand about a medical malpractice lawsuit: It’s all about the doctor’s/organization’s failure to give you the proper level of care. It’s not necessary to prove a doctor made an error on purpose. You don’t have to show they had bad intentions. You just have to show that they breached the standard of care.
Also, medical malpractice doesn’t always involve a doctor. It can be any healthcare professional, including a nurse, resident, intern, or physician’s assistant. If they provide healthcare, they are part of the medical profession and you can file a lawsuit against the organization for malpractice.
What Are the Types of Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice cases are divided into some general categories depending on the situation that occurred. Here are some common situations where you may have a medical malpractice case.
A patient is diagnosed with the wrong condition and receives improper treatment as a result. This prolongs their suffering and sets the stage for additional complications.
Failure to Properly Administer Treatment
A doctor fails to treat a patient in a timely or acceptable way, which allows their condition to grow worse and become life-threatening.
The doctor makes an error when writing a prescription and prescribes the wrong medication. Or perhaps they fail to take the patient’s medical history and other medications into account when writing a new prescription.
A surgeon nicks one of the patient’s organs with a medical tool during surgery, causing bleeding or infection. There are many types of surgical errors that can occur during surgery or in preparation for it.
The patient was discharged from the doctor’s care too soon, and the patient suffered harm from the failure to receive additional treatment.
Failure to Account for Patient History
An anesthesiologist fails to read the patient’s mental health history before administering a medication that is contraindicated for use with the patient’s other current medications.
Failure to Receive Informed Patient Consent
A patient schedules a surgery without being informed of the potential risks of the surgery. In the U.S. healthcare officials are required to provide informed consent forms to all patients about the benefits and risks of procedures.
Quick Facts About Medical Malpractice in Michigan and the U.S.
- More than 250,000 Americans die each year due to medical mistakes.
- Medical errors take third place behind heart disease and cancer in terms of the number of deaths they cause.
- About 100,000 deaths per year arise from diagnostic errors and 195,000 people die in hospitals every year due to preventable mistakes.
- About 10,000 medical malpractice claims are paid in the U.S. every year.
- Michigan is home to the world-famous “Michigan Model” which helps prevent medical mistakes and has reduced our state’s number of malpractice lawsuits.
How Do I Prove There Was Medical Malpractice?
Generally speaking, all medical malpractice cases must prove three things in order to result in an award of compensation:
- There is a doctor-patient relationship between the plaintiff and the health care professional
- There was a deviation by the health care professional from the acceptable standard of proper medical care.
- That the mistake lead to serious physical injuries or death to the patient.
- There is sufficient evidence that proves the medical professional caused the damage.
Your medical malpractice lawyer will help you gather the evidence you need to prove your case. This may include paperwork that shows your medical history, your medical bills, photographs of your injuries, interviews, and more.
Why File a Medical Malpractice Claim?
A medical error can change your whole life. Suddenly, you have unforeseen medical bills and may never be able to recoup the financial losses you’re suffering. Plus, you have ongoing pain that affects your peace of mind and quality of life.
Many people find they have to locate new transportation or a new home after a debilitating injury. In order to get around and get things done, they need special equipment that’s quite expensive and time-consuming to acquire.
When malpractice results in the death of a loved one, the loss is permanent and devastating. The family may lose its quality of life and financial stability, all because one doctor didn’t do their job correctly.
This is why a medical malpractice lawsuit is justified in so many ways. When you or a loved one has needlessly suffered due to the negligence of a medical professional, you shouldn’t have to silently suffer for the rest of your lives. A medical malpractice lawsuit helps you reclaim your personal dignity and power over a situation that isn’t your fault.
How Much Will I Receive in a Malpractice Lawsuit?
Michigan does have a medical malpractice damages cap that limits the amount you can be awarded in a medical malpractice case. The standard cap is currently $471,800 for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. For cases that involve significant, long-lasting harm to the patient, the cap expands to $842,500.
The damages cap is usually set at the higher amount for malpractice cases that involve situations like:
- Permanent damage to an organ, for example if someone is left sterile or on dialysis.
- Permanent disability, where the patient is now hemiplegic, paraplegic, or quadriplegic because of the malpractice.
- Total functional loss of a limb due to brain or spinal cord injury.
- Cognitive impairment and reduced mental capacity that prevents the patient from easily performing the normal activities of daily life.
There is no cap for economic damages, such as past medical expenses, lost wages, future medical expenses, future medicine needs and similar expenses.
Of course, every case is different, so we can’t guarantee a particular level of compensation or even that you have grounds for a malpractice case. That’s why we offer a free case consultation so we can get to know you and help you understand your options.
What Are Some Examples of Medical Malpractice?
On a regular basis, situations happen where a doctor, nurse, hospital or other healthcare professional breaches the standard of care and does something negligent. Here’s a look at some of the most common types of medical malpractice. These are just examples and there are many other types of situations that can fall under medical malpractice.
Sometimes a wonderful day goes wrong and a child and/or mother are injured in the delivery room. A birth injury like cerebral palsy or shoulder dystocia can have a lifelong impact on your child, but you can sue for the costs of their medical care. It can cost millions for a lifetime of care for a birth injury like cerebral palsy. A life care planner will analyze and evaluate the needs created by the malpractice injury, and outline the financial needs created by the disability.
Errors during surgery are surprisingly common and operating on the wrong body part is a common source of error according to the National Institutes of Health. Hold the surgeon and facility responsible for this type of serious medical error. Common surgical errors resulting in medical malpractice include:
- Cutting or perforating an artery, nerve or organ.
- Operating on the wrong body part or performing the wrong surgery.
- Leaving objects inside the body, such as surgical instruments and sponges
- Failing to properly treat post-operative infections
- Giving the wrong dose of anesthesia
Spinal Cord Injury
Spinal injuries are permanent and disabling. Up to 4.6% of them are the result of medical malpractice, according to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center. A lawsuit can help get the compensation you need to cope with this type of severe injury.
Failure to Diagnose
A doctor fails to diagnose you accurately or in a timely fashion. Diagnostic errors are one of the leading contributors to medical deaths in the U.S. and healthcare professionals can be held liable for them.
What if the doctor prescribes the wrong medication or the wrong dosage? Or they put you on a medication that is contraindicated for another of your health conditions? Medication errors can be grounds for a lawsuit.
Internal Organ Damage
Damage to an internal organ is a severe and sometimes permanent injury. It usually happens during surgery when the doctor cuts or perforates the organ, and fails to take corrective measure to repair the mistake. This mistake can lead to extensive medical care and even death.
Hospitals are full of severe infections and sepsis, according to a recent sepsis study. Infections can be life-threatening, and bacteria live on hospital surfaces like IV lines, bed linens, equipment, walls, and doors.
If a loved one dies as a result of medical negligence, the family may be able to sue for malpractice. This includes cases where someone loses their life due to an undiagnosed condition, surgical error, improper treatment, or incorrect medication that led to death.
Nursing Home Neglect/Abuse
This form of malpractice involves patients who are essentially trapped in nursing, convalescent, or rehabilitation facilities and may not be able to advocate for themselves when they endure abuse or neglect. A lawsuit holds the facility responsible.
What are the Steps to Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim?
Filing a medical malpractice claim takes a methodical approach that involves many steps. Here’s the best path to securing an optimal outcome.
- First, contact a Michigan medical malpractice lawyer who is experienced with these lawsuits and has a proven track record for getting positive results.
- Next, gather your paperwork, photos, and any other evidence related to the malpractice and share it with your lawyer.
- With your lawyer, gather medical records from the medical provider where the negligence occurred, as well as past medical records from primary care doctors and appropriate specialists.
- Together, you and your lawyer will discuss your options and decide whether your claim is actionable and falls within the statute of limitations.
- Your lawyer will help you gather additional evidence, seek second opinions, request documents, and secure subpoenas as necessary.
How Should I Choose a Michigan Medical Malpractice Lawyer?
Malpractice lawsuits are some of the most complex and difficult cases to prove. The healthcare facility has doctors, lawyers, and other professionals on their side and it can be extremely challenging for the average person to fight this battle.
You need a Michigan malpractice lawyer who has what it takes to go up against medical companies and their lawyers and insurance carriers. Consider these factors:
- Results. What kind of results have they gotten for previous medical malpractice clients?
- Experience. Do they have experience with this specific part of Michigan law?
- Reputation. Your lawyer must have a terrific reputation in the Michigan legal system.
- Care. Will your lawyer take time to get to know you personally and invest time in your case?
What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Michigan Malpractice Case?
The statute of limitations is the time limit you have to file a claim for damages against a defendant. Under Michigan law, in general you have two years from the date of the malpractice to file a lawsuit. If you wait more than two years, then you are forever barred from bringing a claim for compensation, such as for pain and suffering, the payment of medical bills and lost wages against the defendant doctor or hospital.
However, there are some exceptions. If the malpractice could not have been discovered within the two-year time limit, then the plaintiff has 6 additional months after the plaintiff discovers or should have discovered the existence of a medical malpractice claim. This is exception is very narrow though and plaintiff’s can rarely use this exception to get around the standard two-year time limit.
If the case involves a wrongful death due to medical malpractice, the rules are also different. In that situation, if the person dies before the 2 year time limit ran, or within 30 days after the time limit, a lawsuit can be filed by a personal representative for the deceased at any time within 2 years after the probate court issues letters of authority. So in a wrongful death situation, the statute of limitations can extend beyond the two-year time limit.
In addition, there are different rules for minors. For example, if a minor was subject to medical malpractice before he or she turned 8 years-old, then a lawsuit must be filed by the time they turn 10 years-old. If the minor was older than 8 years-old when the malpractice happened, the standard two-year time limit applies.
What is a Notice of Intent for Michigan Malpractice Cases?
In addition to the statute of limitation, there are also other deadlines Plaintiff’s must meet before filing a lawsuit. Under MCL 600.2912b(1), a plaintiff who intends to file a medical malpractice lawsuit must file a notice of intent to file a claim within 182 days before filing the lawsuit. In some situations, the time limit to file a notice of intent is shrunk to 91 days.
The notice of intent must contain the following items:
- The factual basis for the medical malpractice claim;
- The standard of care alleged by the plaintiff;
- The manner in which the defendants breached the standard of care;
- The action the defendant should have taken to achieve compliance with the standard of care;
- The names of all defendants and facilities the plaintiff is planning on filing a lawsuit against.
What are the Rules for Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Michigan?
Filing a lawsuit for medical malpractice in Michigan is not the same as filing a lawsuit for money following a car accident or slip-and-fall. There are additional requirements mandated by law. When filing a lawsuit, or Complaint, that alleges medical malpractice, the Complaint must also contain an affidavit of merit. Under MCL 600.2912d, the affidavit of Merit is a document signed by a health care expert and certifies the expert has reviewed the notice of intent and all medical records supplied to him or her concerning the allegations found in the notice. The affidavit of merit must contain the following:
- The applicable standard of care;
- The expert’s opinion that the defendants breached the applicable standard of care;
- The actions that should have been taken or omitted by the defendant and defendant health care facility to have complied with the standard of care;
- The manner in which the breach of the standard of care was the proximate cause of Plaintiff’s injuries.
The filing of a lawsuit tolls or stops the statute of limitations. So once a lawsuit is filed, a plaintiff can proceed with their case even if more than two years has gone by since the malpractice. But if an affidavit of merit is not filed with the lawsuit, the Complaint is ineffective and does not toll the statute of limitations.
What Do Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Settle For in Michigan?
There is no hard or fast rule on how much a Michigan medical malpractice lawsuit will settle for. Each case and each situation is different. The value of a malpractice case is determined by the amount of “damages” the malpractice caused. The worse off the plaintiff is due to the malpractice, then the higher the value of the case. Whether the injuries are permanent, created lost wages of loss of earning capacity, and the amount of medical expenses are very important in determining how much a case is worth.
For example, if the plaintiff is a minor and is left with life long medical expenses, then the value of that claim is typically higher than an elderly plaintiff injured in the exact same way by a doctor.
The type of malpractice is also important. Doctors and hospitals are extremely aggressive in defending Michigan malpractice cases. They almost never admit liability or wrongdoing. They fight every step of the way, including the reasons for the doctor’s mistake and why it occurred. Some types of doctor’s errors are more easily explainable to a jury and this can decrease the value of a medical malpractice result.
Another important factor is damage caps. Under Michigan law, there is a cap on how much a plaintiff can receive for “non-economic damages” from a medical malpractice case. So even if a jury awards $5,000,000 for future pain and suffering, that award is lowered to the cap amount. The cap changes each year based on inflation and the cost of living. The standard cap is less than $500,000 and less than $850,000 for certain cases resulting in things like permanent brain damage, paraplegia, or dialysis. There is no cap for economic damages, like future medical expenses. 1
Last the venue of the medical malpractice case is important. Some venues will give a higher dollar value for a medical malpractice case than other venues. For example, on average Detroit area juries have typically awarded more money for medical malpractice cases than a jury pool in more rural areas. This is not always the case, and again each situation is different.
No matter reasons, it is important to discuss your medical malpractice situation with a knowledgeable and experienced malpractice lawyer.
We are the Michigan Medical Malpractice Experts
Winning a Michigan medical malpractice case is hard. The process is complex and Michigan law is not always favorable to injured plaintiffs. If you have sustained a serious injury due to the medical negligence of a healthcare professional, call the Michigan malpractice lawyers today at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733).
The Law Office of Lee Steinberg has been successfully handling Michigan medical malpractice cases for many years. We have a large team of experienced Michigan medical malpractice lawyers dedicated to helping you obtain the benefits you deserve.
Plus, we understand it can be difficult to travel to a lawyer. That’s why we make it easier for you. We have offices throughout the state of Michigan. We’re always nearby to serve you.
Please call Lee Free and Michigan medical malpractice lawyers at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) or fill out the free case evaluation form so we can answer any questions you have about Michigan medical malpractice law.
We are the Michigan medical malpractice experts. You pay nothing until we win your case. Let us help you today.