A 43-year-old Jackson woman who underwent an abdominoplasty—more commonly known as a “tummy tuck”—was recently awarded $1.3 million by a jury in a medical malpractice case in compensation for serious complications which left her with permanent impairment.
The breakdown of the award is as follows: $500,000 of the award was for pain, suffering, scarring and disfigurement, and mental/emotional distress; $382,000 was for loss of income; and an additional $430,000 was for loss of income through 2017. The award has been called “excessive” by the defendant physician’s attorney, but the attorney representing the injured woman said the award was appropriate given the facts of the case.
One of the challenges in medical malpractice litigation is to ensure not only that an injured patient is compensated, but that the patient is compensated appropriately. The task of a plaintiff is to clearly demonstrate to the court the full extent of the plaintiff’s injuries. This includes not only economic losses, but also noneconomic losses. The latter are particularly important in cases where economic losses do not adequately capture the losses suffered by the plaintiff. This can happen, for instance, when the injuries suffered by the plaintiff, for whatever reason, do not involve significant medical corrections, or when the plaintiff’s income was not that significant.
Noneconomic damages in Michigan are currently capped at $280,000, unless certain exceptions apply. These include cases where the plaintiff loses permanent function of one or more limbs due to brain or spinal cord injury and cases where the plaintiff suffers permanent cognitive impairment that interferes with ordinary activities.
We’ll pick back up on this topic in our next post.
Source: Michigan Compiled Laws, Sec. 600.1483