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Potential damages in a medical malpractice case

For those who sustain injuries due to medical malpractice, the issue of the likely compensation they can obtain can be of the utmost importance. A damages award can help cover medical bills and other substantial losses that stem from the injury.

Proving damages is one of the major elements of a Michigan medical malpractice case. Understanding how the law works in respect to identifying and quantifying eligible losses can help provide a clearer picture of a case.

Major categories

Generally, medical malpractice plaintiffs can recover for financial losses and for pain and suffering. Both types of damages have the purpose of financially compensating for past and future losses that result from the injury. Thus, the amounts depend on calculating these losses.

Monetary losses

Economic losses include expenses as well as lost or diminished earning opportunities. For example, the injured person may need to spend money on medical bills, assistive devices, therapy and assistance in daily living. He or she may also lose earnings due to having to miss days from work. Some people become disabled to the extent of being completely unable to work. For others, their injuries may limit the hours or type of work they can do, or prevent them from opportunities to increase their earning power.

Pain and suffering

Noneconomic damages can be more difficult to calculate. They represent nonfinancial ways injuries can worsen a person's life, such as physical pain, mental suffering, embarrassment and limitations on the ability to enjoy life. Michigan law limits the amount a medical malpractice plaintiff can recover for pain and suffering. This amount changes every year. In 2018, plaintiffs may recover a maximum of $455,000. A plaintiff whose injury causes permanent brain damage, loss of reproductive function or paralysis can recover a maximum of $812,500.

The issue of fault

Sometimes, the jury may decide that a plaintiff contributed to his or her own losses by action such as acting against medical advice, failing to take medication or to obey activity restrictions. In this type of situation, the plaintiff can still recover but the award will be reduced by a percentage corresponding to the percentage of the plaintiff's fault.

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