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January 2019

2019 Michigan Non-Economic Damages Caps

On January 18, 2019, the State of Michigan Department of Treasury announced the 2019 Non-Economic Damages Caps for medical malpractice claims. Michigan has placed these limitations on the total amount of damages for non-economic loss that are recoverable in a medical malpractice action since 1993. The limitations are enacted by statute in MCL § 600.1483, which defines “non-economic loss” as damages or loss due to pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, or physical disfigurement, loss of society and companionship, loss of consortium, and other non-economic loss.

MCL § 600.1483 provides two limitations on non-economic damages, which are commonly referred to as the “upper tier cap” or “upper cap,” and the “lower tier cap” or “lower cap.”  The upper cap applies only if the claimed medical malpractice results in one or more of the following scenarios:

1. The plaintiff suffers injury to the brain and/or spinal cord that causes hemiplegia, paraplegia, or quadriplegia resulting in total permanent functional loss of one or more limbs;

2. The plaintiff has permanently impaired cognitive capacity rendering him/her incapable of making independent, reasonable life decisions and permanently incapable of independently performing the activities of normal, daily living; or

3. The plaintiff has suffered permanent loss or damage to a reproductive organ resulting in the inability to procreate.

The lower cap applies to all other instances of medical malpractice.

Every year, the State Treasurer adjusts the limitations on non-economic damages based upon the annual percentage change in the consumer price index. The reported annual change in the Detroit consumer price index for the 2018 calendar year was 2.4%. Accordingly, for 2019, the upper cap has been adjusted to a limitation of $832,000.00, and the lower cap has been adjusted to a limitation of $465,900.00.

Please contact Tony Pignotti at 734.742.1800 for additional information on this or other healthcare issues.