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March 2017

2017 Non-Economic Damages Caps

The State of Michigan Department of Treasury has announced the 2017 Non-Economic Damages Caps for 2017 for medical malpractice claims. With respect to obtaining compensation for the injured plaintiff, Michigan – by statute – places a cap on the amount of noneconomic loss that a plaintiff may be awarded in a medical malpractice lawsuit.  Noneconomic damages are designed to compensate for injuries and losses that are not easily quantified by a dollar amount, and traditionally include such categories as pain and suffering; emotional distress; inconvenience; embarrassment; and loss of consortium, love, and affection. The Michigan statute that governs the amount of noneconomic damages that can be awarded by a jury in a medical malpractice lawsuit, MCL 600.1483, also divides noneconomic damages into two categories, which are commonly referred to as the “lower tier cap” and “upper tier cap.” The lower cap applies to most cases, but the upper cap on noneconomic damages applies: If a plaintiff is made hemiplegic, paraplegic, or quadriplegic resulting in a total permanent functional loss of one or more limbs caused by an injury to the brain or spinal cord;

If a plaintiff has permanently impaired cognitive capacity that renders them incapable of making independent, responsible life decisions and permanently incapable of independently performing the activities of normal, daily living; or

If there has been permanent loss of or damage to a reproductive organ resulting in the inability to procreate. 

Michigan’s caps, or limitations, on noneconomic damages are adjusted on a yearly basis based on the annual percentage change in the Detroit consumer price index, which was a net increase of 1.6% in 2016. Therefore, the total amount of noneconomic damages that can be awarded in a medical malpractice case in 2017 is $445,500 in cases when the lower tier cap applies, and $795,500 in cases in which the upper tier cap applies. Please contact Judy Sherman or Nick Nahorski at 734.742.1800 for additional information on this or other healthcare issues.