Michigan Medical Malpractice Laws & Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims in Michigan, caps on damages in malpractice lawsuits, and more.

Updated by , J.D. · University of San Francisco School of Law

If you're thinking about filing a lawsuit over a health care provider's mistake in Michigan, it's important to understand a few key state laws that are likely to come into play.

In this article we'll cover:

  • the Michigan deadline for getting a medical malpractice lawsuit filed in court
  • special procedural requirements the injured patient will need to comply with before their case will be heard in court, and
  • limits ("caps") on how much compensation you can receive even if your lawsuit is successful.

The Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Lawsuits in Michigan

A statute of limitations is a law that sets a time limit on the right to bring a civil lawsuit to court.

Under the statute of limitations found at Michigan Compiled Statutes section 600.5805(8), medical malpractice lawsuits must be filed within two years of the health care provider's action (or failure to act) that gave rise to the claim.

Is There a "Discovery" Exception for the Michigan Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations?

Yes. Michigan Compiled Statutes section 600.5838a(2) says that if more than two years have passed since the health care provider's mistake, any related medical malpractice claim can still be filed within six months of when the patient's harm was discovered, or reasonably should have been discovered.

The Michigan "Statute of Repose" for Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

Despite the "discovery" exception we just discussed, there's an overarching deadline (called a "statute of repose") that says any Michigan medical malpractice lawsuit must be brought within six years of the act (or failure to act) giving rise to the claim, regardless of the discovery date.

The only exceptions here (meaning the six-year deadline won't apply) are cases where:

  • the health care provider fraudulently concealed the malpractice, or
  • the injury involved permanent damage to the claimant's reproductive system.

Are There Other Exceptions to the Standard Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations In Michigan?

A patient who is a minor (under the age of 18) or who has been deemed legally incompetent at the time of the medical error may also take advantage of certain provisions built into Michigan's laws on medical malpractice, which effectively extend lawsuit-filing deadlines. Talk to a Michigan lawyer for the details on these rules, and how they might apply to your situation.

Michigan's Medical Malpractice Lawsuit "Notice of Intent"

Every medical malpractice case in Michigan is initiated by filing a Notice of Intent to File Suit (NOI). The NOI must be in writing and must be served upon all health care providers who will be sued, at least 182 days before the actual lawsuit is filed.

Serving the NOI pauses the statute of limitations for 182 days. However, if the NOI does not comply with all of the necessary requirements, the 182-day "pause" will likely be void and the claim can be dismissed if it's filed beyond the statute of limitations deadline.

If certain requirements are met, the notice period can be reduced from 182 days down to 91.

The Michigan Affidavit of Merit Requirement for Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

Michigan law requires that medical malpractice plaintiffs submit an affidavit of merit signed by a health care professional who is properly qualified under state law.

The medical expert must:

  • be a licensed health care professional practicing or teaching in the same specialty as the defendant, and must
  • have the same board certifications the defendant has (if any).

So, these rule would likely prevent a general practitioner from giving an expert opinion in a medical malpractice case against an oncologist.

In the affidavit of merit, the expert must identity or opine on:

  • the medical standard of care that applied to the treatment scenario
  • the expert's opinion that the defendant failed to meet the standard of care
  • the actions the defendant should have taken in order to meet the standard of care, and
  • the way in which the defendant's provision of sub-standard care and their medical negligence caused the plaintiff's injuries.

The "Affidavit of Meritorious Defense" In a Michigan Medical Malpractice Case

In response to this affidavit filed by the plaintiff/patient's side, the defendant or defendants must file an affidavit of meritorious defense, signed by a qualified expert, refuting the plaintiff's claims.

Michigan Caps Non-Economic Damages in Medical Malpractice Cases

Michigan caps "non-economic damages" in medical malpractice lawsuits. This means the amount of compensation a successful plaintiff can receive for "pain and suffering" and other non-financial losses is limited by law, under MCL section 600.1483.

The damages cap is adjusted for inflation each year. It's currently set at over $500,000.

Michigan's Medical Malpractice Damages Cap Is Higher for Catastrophic Injuries

A different, higher damages cap (currently set at almost $1 million) applies in situations where, because of the defendant health care provider's medical malpractice, the patient has suffered:

  • injury to the brain or spinal cord resulting in paralysis or "total permanent functional loss" of one or more limbs
  • permanent impairment of "cognitive capacity," so that they're now "incapable of making independent, responsible life decisions" and "permanently incapable of independently performing the activities of normal, daily living," and/or
  • permanent loss of (or damage to) a reproductive organ, so that they've lost the ability to procreate.

It's important to note that there is no cap on "economic" damages in Michigan medical malpractice cases (which include compensation for past and future medical treatment, lost income, and lost capacity to earn income in the future). Get the basics on damages in a medical malpractice case.

Next Steps After a Health Care Injury In Michigan

Medical malpractice cases are complex undertakings, from the legal standards used to evaluate a health care provider's conduct, to the procedural demands placed on patients who want to get help from a court. We've covered a lot of ground in this article, and at this point you might be looking for more than just information.

If you're convinced you have a valid medical malpractice case, your best first step might be discussing your situation with an experienced legal professional. Learn more about meeting and working with a medical malpractice lawyer.

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