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There is one type of damages available in the state of Michigan to those who are injured by birth injury: compensatory damages. Compensatory damages (discussed below) are those that reimburse an injured patient for actual losses. Michigan, in contrast to other states in the news for large verdicts, does not recognize or permit a recovery of punitive damages - a type of damage that punishes a defendant's behavior.

In addition, the Michigan legislature and appellate courts have aggressively taken away and arbitrarily limited the rights of injured patients to recover actual losses. They and the powerful insurance and medical lobbies have taken away patients' fundamental rights under the guise of purported "tort reform" statutes. These statutes, which went into effect in April 1994, are unfair and economically discriminate most against women, young people, and the retired. These harsh laws are supported and promoted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Republican Party, and these powerful and wealthy groups push the Michigan statutes as a national role model for tort reform.

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Compensatory damages

Compensatory damages are derived from the word "compensate," meaning "to make up for" or "to make whole". Generally, these damages can be broken up into two sub-categories- actual damages and general damages. Actual damages seek to reimburse a plaintiff for out-of-pocket expenses incurred, or financial losses sustained. Actual damages typically include:

  • Medical and hospitalization bills incurred to treat your injuries
  • Wages lost due to work missed while you recuperate
  • Costs of household or nursing help during recovery, including costs of wheelchair or crutches required
  • Pain and suffering endured due to injuries and any subsequent mental anguish
  • Disfigurement resulting from injuries
  • Value of medical expenses you are likely to incur in the future
  • Value of wages you are likely to lose in the future
  • Permanency of injury and resulting pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium (benefits of a relationship)

Michigan "Tort Reform" Ceilings on Damages

In the 1990s, Michigan and other states enacted aggressive "tort reform" statutes purportedly to curtail personal injury lawsuits. Michigan imposed the most aggressive "reforms" on medical negligence claims and leveled arbitrarily low ceilings (i.e. "caps") on damages that can be recovered by injured persons. The "reforms," which took effect on April 1, 1994, include a ceiling on non-economic loss.

A Ceiling on Non-Economic Loss

The statute limits the total recovery (against all defendants) for non-economic loss to a maximum of $280,000. MCL 600.1483(1). The cap is adjusted annually in February by the Michigan Treasurer and is currently $366,000. This cap applies to all medical negligence cases.

However, under three very narrow exceptions the cap on non-economic loss may increase to $500,000, or the current adjusted number of $653,500. The three exceptions are: (a) a brain or spinal cord injury that causes substantial paralysis, (b) permanent and severe cognitive impairment rendering a person incapable of making life decisions and living independently, and (c) permanent loss or damage to a reproductive organ resulting in the inability to procreate.

(for current cap amounts click here)

Death is not an exception to the caps, according to the Michigan Supreme Court.

The statute defines "non-economic loss" to mean "damages or loss due to pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, physical disfigurement, or other non-economic loss." Further, the judge cannot inform jurors about the caps before they deliberate and return with a verdict. Michigan deliberately conceals the cap's existence so a jury cannot upwardly adjust economic damages to lessen the inequities of the cap. If the jury's award for non-economic loss is above the cap, the judge automatically reduces the award to the maximum allowed by the statute when the verdict is entered.

The purported "reforms" are not only extraordinary impediments to the filing of a medical negligence claim but they also create unjust results and grossly inadequate recoveries.

In birth injury cases it is essential that measures be taken promptly to preserve evidence, review the medical procedures in question, and to enable physicians or other expert witnesses to thoroughly evaluate the birth record and injuries. If you or a loved one is a victim of birth injury, call Buchanan & Buchanan, P.L.C. now at (616) 458-2464 or Toll Free: (800) 272-4080 or CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT A SIMPLE CASE FORM. The initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to accept your case, we will work on a contingent fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary award or recovery of funds. Donít delay! You may have a valid claim and be entitled to compensation for your injuries, but a lawsuit must be filed before the statute of limitations expires.

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The birth injury information offered by Buchanan & Buchanan, P.L.C. and contained herein, regarding Michigan birth injury injury statutes and Michigan birth injury injury claimants' rights is general in scope. No attorney client relationship with our Michigan birth injury injury attorneys is hereby formed nor is the birth injury injury information herein intended as formal legal advice. Please contact a Michigan personal birth injury injury lawyer regarding your specific inquiry. See Terms of Use

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