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 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
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.
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
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.