What Does It Look Like to File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Michigan?

If you or a loved one has experienced harm due to the negligence of a doctor or other medical professional, you may have a strong malpractice case on your hands. Understanding what steps you need to take, and what you will experience, in a medical malpractice lawsuit will help you know what to expect. When done right, a malpractice suit can help cover your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering damages, and more, so make sure you know how to handle this important process.

Notice of Intent to Sue

In the state of Michigan, all medical malpractice lawsuits must start by having a Notice of Intent to Sue, often simply referred to as the Notice of Intent or NOI, served to the prospective defendant(s). This notice must be issued a minimum of 182 days prior to filing the actual suit, so the sooner this is done the faster you can move forward with the lawsuit. While you have two years to file a medical malpractice action, serving the NOI will pause the statute of limitations for 182 days as well, so there is no need to be concerned with that.

Possible Settlement

Many medical malpractice cases never actually make it to court. If the defense sees that your case is reasonable, or they fear the court or a jury will, it may want to settle. Settling a case will limit the risk on the defendant’s side and also guarantees a set payout for you. You and your attorney can negotiate with the opposing party to try to come up with a reasonable amount to settle the case.

Going to Court

If no settlement can be reached, the case will head to court. Both parties will present their arguments and the courts will issue a ruling, or a jury trial may occur. Judges and juries have quite a bit of leeway when it comes to deciding how much in damages they will issue, which is one big reason why insurance companies often want to settle.

Affidavit of Merit & Filing the Lawsuit

When you file the lawsuit, you will also need to provide an affidavit of merit. This is a document that is filled out by a qualified health care professional who has reviewed your case and agrees that it has merit. This requirement is essentially a procedural hoop to jump through, which is designed to weed out any frivolous lawsuits from actually making it to court. Along with this affidavit, you will actually file the lawsuit itself, which will lay out your complaints and why you feel the medical professional named is responsible.

Seeking Evidence to Support Your Claims

After the lawsuit has been filed, the “discovery” process will begin. This is where all of the medical records, interviews with potential witnesses, and other steps will take place. Much of this work will be done by your attorney. During this time, you and your attorney will also be deciding what a reasonable settlement amount is so that you can begin negotiating with the defense attorney or insurance company, if necessary. This process can take anywhere from six months to more than a year in some cases.

Never Handle Medical Malpractice on Your Own

Medical malpractice cases are among the most complex and difficult in the legal field, and the time period in which you have to file is strict. Even attorneys and judges can have difficulty interpreting the laws. You do not want to try to handle this on your own. Contact attorney Carla D. Aikens to get help from a lawyer who will fight for you.