Michigan has a limitation or cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases, which was set at $280,000 in 1993. The cap is adjusted for inflation each year and is now up to $433,400. In addition, the cap is increased to $774,000 in some cases such as permanent functional loss of limb, permanent cognitive impairment, or permanent loss of reproduction. There is no cap on economic damages for medical expenses or lost income. In an effort to reduce the number of frivolous claims Michigan has a mandatory review of all malpractice suits. A mediation panel reviews the case and gives a written evaluation to both sides. If either side rejects the panel’s evaluation and the case goes to trial and they lose, they must pay the opposing side’s costs.
In Michigan a patient has 2 years from the date of the medical care or incident to file a medical malpractice suit. The state also allows for a claim to be filed within 6 months of the date of discovery or when the plaintiff reasonably should have discovered the problem, but this extension is limited to 6 years after the original incident. As with most states there are exceptions for minors; in most cases until the minor’s 10th birthday, and after that the 2 year limit applies.
Michigan, like most states, does not have legally mandated minimum limits of liability coverage a doctor must carry. However, it is advisable for physicians to carry the standard $1M/$3M coverage limits.
Medical malpractice claims have steadily and consistently declined in Michigan for several years. The number of claims filed and the severity of payouts has decreased creating a favorable environment for physicians to practice medicine. In addition, insurance carriers see medical malpractice insurance profits in the state, which has pushed rates down and improved the availability of coverage. With competition, patient safety, and reforms Michigan’s insurance market should not see any significant changes in the near future.