Recoverable Expenses May No Longer Exceed Actual Damages From Alleged Medical Malpractice
On Dec. 30, 2016, Gov. Rick Snyder signed Senate Bill 1104, which: (1) limits damages for past medical expenses or rehabilitation service expenses to actual damages for medical care that arose out of the alleged malpractice; and (2) limits actual damages to the dollar amount actually paid, excluding write-offs, discounts and price reductions.
This law, which can be found at MCL 600.1482, prohibits a court from admitting at trial evidence of past medical expenses or rehabilitation service expenses, except for evidence of “actual damages for medical care.” Such damages consist of the dollar amount actually paid for past medical expenses or rehabilitation service expenses, including payments made by insurers, but excluding any contractual discounts, price reductions or write-offs.
The legislation follows a request by the Michigan Supreme Court that the Legislature address the issue of discrepancies between charged and paid amounts, which may vary greatly based upon agreements reached between medical insurers and medical providers. The remedial effect of the statute is to prevent windfall recoveries by plaintiffs who are allowed to recover past damages for amounts billed to but never paid by the patient or the medical insurer.
Plunkett Cooney appellate attorney Robert G. Kamenec appeared before both Senate and House committees to explain and support this legislation, which will apply to actions filed on or after the effective date of the law, March 30, 2017.