By: Makenzie P. Sipes
Healthcare professionals are some of the most trusted individuals in our lives. From doctors to nurses, chiropractors to physical therapists, healthcare professionals provide the care we need to maintain healthy, happy lives – but mistakes happen. Too often, these mistakes result in life-changing injuries or even death.
Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional fails to provide proper treatment causing a patient to suffer some kind of new injury. Some forms of medical malpractice are obvious, such as operating on the wrong body part or administering the wrong medication. Other forms are not quite as obvious, such as misdiagnosis or delayed treatment.
There are two defining characteristics of a medical malpractice claim that separate it from a claim of ordinary negligence. First, the mistake must have occurred within the course of a professional relationship between provider and patient. Second, the claim must raise questions involving medical judgment. This means the issues raised in the claim cannot be of common knowledge to a lay person.
One of the most important aspects of a medical malpractice claim in Michigan is the statute of limitations. Usually, a malpractice claim must be filed within two years of the date of the malpractice incident or six months from the date when the claimant discovered or should have discovered the existence of the claim, whichever is later. Failure to meet this requirement means a victim of medical malpractice will lose the right to file a lawsuit and miss out on the benefits he or she deserves.
There are other legal requirements that must be satisfied before filing a lawsuit against a health professional or health facility. A party who wants to bring suit must file a written Notice of Intent and serve it upon all health care providers who will be sued at least 182 days before the actual lawsuit is filed. Additionally, Michigan law requires that medical malpractice plaintiffs submit an Affidavit of Merit signed by a healthcare professional who practices in the same specialty as the defendant, detailing the standard of care that was breached.
Due to the time sensitive nature and complexity of medical malpractice claims, it is important to seek legal advice from an experienced attorney as soon as you or a loved one becomes victim to malpractice.
Errick A. Miles practices in the areas of personal injury, medical malpractice, professional negligence and ordinary negligence at SMITH BOVILL, P.C. These articles are intended to introduce various issues arising within this field of practice and are not intended to replace individual legal advice. If you have questions, please contact Errick at the firm’s Saginaw office.