For years, the State of Michigan has been hostile to victims’ rights. This has been particularly true in the area of medical malpractice, where state law imposes complex procedural requirements on injured people. Until just recently, failure to follow these requirements exactly meant that a victim of malpractice would lose his or her case, even if the error was seemingly inconsequential.
One of the most contentious aspects of Michigan’s medical malpractice is the "notice of intent." Before a malpractice victim can commence a lawsuit, he or she must put the potential defendants on notice and allege very specific violations of the standard of care. The problem is that the notice of intent must be filed before any discovery is conducted, when the victim has very little information available. As a result, it is not uncommon for minor errors or inconsistencies to be present in the notice of intent. In years past, those minor deficiencies often resulted in the dismissal of otherwise valid malpractice cases.
Lately, however, the Michigan Supreme Court has helped protect victims of malpractice by looking past technicalities to the merits of the underlying case. Last year, the Supreme Court ruled that a defective notice of intent filed within the statute of limitations period was sufficient to prevent a claim from being time-barred. Last Wednesday, the Court ruled that defendant providers must challenge the adequacy of a notice of intent within 63 days. The recent order will prevent defendants from waiting until the last minute to raise a procedural challenge, and it makes it more likely that injured malpractice victims will be able to correct any error within the statute of limitations period. All of this means that more people will get the chance to let a jury decide the outcome of their case.
Even with these favorable rulings, medical malpractice is a complicated area of the law. If you or a loved one has been injured by the professional negligence of a health care provider, you need an experienced attorney to help guide you through this legal obstacle course.
recently named in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyer's In America, David Mittleman has been representing seriously injured people since 1985. A partner with Church Wyble PC—a division of Grewal Law PLLC—Mr. Mittleman and his partners focus on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, nursing home injury, pharmacy/pharmacist negligence and disability claims.