Is there a cap on medical malpractice damages in Michigan?

Question

Is there a cap on medical malpractice damages in Michigan?

Answer

Yes. Like many states, Michigan "caps" or sets an upper limit on the amount of damages that are available to a plaintiff who has been successful in a medical malpractice lawsuit. Michigan’s cap is a little more complex than the statutory limit in place in most states.

According to Michigan Compiled Laws section 600.1483, there is a cap on noneconomic damages available in all medical malpractice lawsuits. Noneconomic damages include compensation for the injured patient’s "pain and suffering," loss of enjoyment of life, stress, and anxiety resulting from the defendant health care provider’s mistake. (Learn more about common errors by doctors and hospitals.)

Michigan has two different caps for noneconomic damages. The higher limit applies if the malpractice:

  • led to a brain or spinal-cord injury that left the plaintiff hemiplegic, paraplegic, or quadriplegic, with total permanent functional loss of a limb
  • left the plaintiff with a permanently impaired cognitive capacity that prevents making independent, responsible life decisions, as well as independently performing the activities of normal daily life; or
  • caused permanent loss of or damage to a reproductive organ resulting in the plaintiff’s inability to procreate.

Michigan's caps on medical malpractice damages are reviewed at the end of each calendar year and adjusted according to the consumer price index. For 2021, the standard cap for noneconomic damages in most malpractice cases is $476,600, while the higher cap for cases involving the permanent injuries described above is $851,000.

Remember that Michigan places no cap on the other main category of damages available to a medical malpractice plaintiff: economic damages, which include compensation for past medical expenses and ongoing medical care (required because of the malpractice), lost income, harm to the plaintiff’s ability to earn a living, and any other measurable financial losses. Learn more about damages in a medical malpractice case.

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