A Michigan medical malpractice jury recently awarded $19 million to the family of an infant who died due to medical negligence. However, due to Michigan’s cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases, the Michigan medical malpractice jury’s verdict will be reduced to $729,000.00 (the amount of the cap in effect in 2010).
Six years ago when the infant was born prematurely, she was hospitalized for two months following her birth due to respiratory distress syndrome and other medical conditions related to her prematurity. Once the baby was discharged to home, her mother noticed that her daughter was having problems breathing and that she was experiencing episodes where she stopped breathing and went limp. The mother brought her baby to the hospital emergency room where the emergency room physician ordered a chest x-ray but the baby was discharged from the hospital before the x-ray was read. The x-ray allegedly showed that the baby possibly had pneumonia, which was a serious and potentially fatal condition due to her health and medical conditions.
Despite the chest x-ray results, no one called the family to advise them of such, according to the family’s Michigan medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit. The family alleged that had the x-ray been timely read, the proper diagnosis made, and the child admitted to the hospital for necessary medical treatment, the child would not have died 38 hours later that an autopsy determined was due to bacterial pneumonia. The Michigan medical malpractice jury agreed with the family and awarded the family $19 million in compensatory damages against the defendant Detroit hospital.
Michigan’s Cap On Noneconomic Damages In Medical Malpractice Cases
Michigan’s cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases is set forth in M.C.L. Section 600.1483:
(1) In a claim for damages alleging medical malpractice by or against a person or party, the total amount of damages for noneconomic loss recoverable by all plaintiffs, resulting from the medical malpractice of all defendants, shall not exceed $280,000.00 unless, as the result of the negligence of 1 or more of the defendants, 1 or more of the following exceptions apply as determined by the court pursuant to section 6304, in which case damages for noneconomic loss shall not exceed $500,000.00:
(a) The plaintiff is hemiplegic, paraplegic, or quadriplegic resulting in a total permanent functional loss of 1 or more limbs caused by 1 or more of the following:
(i) Injury to the brain.
(ii) Injury to the spinal cord.
(b) The plaintiff has permanently impaired cognitive capacity rendering him or her incapable of making independent, responsible life decisions and permanently incapable of independently performing the activities of normal, daily living.
(c) There has been permanent loss of or damage to a reproductive organ resulting in the inability to procreate.
(2) In awarding damages in an action alleging medical malpractice, the trier of fact shall itemize damages into damages for economic loss and damages for noneconomic loss.
(3) As used in this section, “noneconomic loss” means damages or loss due to pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, or physical disfigurement, loss of society and companionship, whether claimed under section 2922 or otherwise, loss of consortium, or other noneconomic loss.
(4) Beginning April 1, 1994, the state treasurer shall adjust the limitations on damages for noneconomic loss set forth in subsection (1) by amounts determined by the state treasurer at the end of each calendar year to reflect the cumulative annual percentage change in the consumer price index. As used in this subsection, “consumer price index” means the most comprehensive index of consumer prices available for this state from the bureau of labor statistics of the United States department of labor.
If you or a loved one suffered serious injury as a result of medical negligence in Michigan, you should promptly find a Michigan medical malpractice lawyer who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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