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    An Overview of Special Rules That Govern Medical Malpractice

    Medical Malpractice
    Medical malpractice cases are subject to special rules that don't apply to other personal injury cases. Here are some of the areas subject to these special rules.

    Statute of Limitations 

    The statute of limitations determines the deadline for filing a lawsuit. All personal injury lawsuits have statutes of limitations, but the statute of limitations for medical malpractice is relatively short. The short statute of limitations means you should file your claim the minute you realize your injury, otherwise, the state may bar your claim.

    In Michigan, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice is usually two years from the date of the physician's negligence. If two years has passed from the date of the physician's negligence, then the state of limitations generally will allow you an amount of time to file a lawsuit from the date you discovered or should have discovered your injury.

    Michigan also provides some exceptions to the normal statute of limitations. For example, you may enjoy a longer state of limitations under the following circumstances:
    • The physician's negligence injured your reproductive system.
    • The physician concealed their fraudulent act.
    • You were a minor at the time of your injury.
    Due to these exceptions, you shouldn't assume that your statute of limitations has expired if you have a medical malpractice case. Instead, consult a lawyer to help you figure out whether you can still file your claim.

    Notice and Mediation 

    You don't just wake up one day and file a medical malpractice case against a medical provider. Like other states, the state of Michigan requires you to file a notice of the claim first. You must file the notice, which the law refers to as a Notice of Intent to File Suit (NOI), before your lawsuit. 

    Affidavit of Merit 

    Before you file a medical malpractice case, you must also submit an affidavit of merit to the board that reviews medical malpractice cases. The affidavit of merit is a short review of your allegations that confirms that you have a valid case. You must get the affidavit of merit from a qualified medical professional who is as qualified as the physician that caused your injury.

    For example, if your defendant is an oncologist (cancer specialist), then you must get an affidavit of merit form an oncologist. The affidavit of merit contains both the facts of the case as well as your allegations and the physician's opinion on your case. The review board has the authority to approve or reject your claim.

    Punitive Damages

    In many forms of personal injury cases, the court may order the defendant to pay punitive damages under certain circumstances. For example, if the court deems that a defendant's actions were intentional or grossly negligent, then the court may order the defendant to pay punitive damages.

    However, Michigan doesn't allow punitive damages in medical malpractice cases. Therefore, when you value your case to prepare for a claim, don't bother to include punitive damages because the court won't allow it. 

    Damage Caps

    Lastly, you should also know that there is a limit as to how much you can recover in a medical malpractice case. Most states have caps on medical malpractice awards. Here are the applicable caps in Michigan:
    • A $445,500 cap for noneconomic damages.
    • A $795,500 cap for specified injuries, which includes brain and spinal cord injuries.
    Note that the state reviews the caps every calendar year and the above are the caps as at January 2017. Therefore, find out what the current cap is before you file a claim or accept a settlement.

    Medical malpractice is a pretty complicated area of law. At The Law Offices of Anthony M. Malizia, however, we have the skills and experience to help you deal with all these complications. Contact us for a free consultation on your medical malpractice case.