Difference between Medical Malpractice and Ordinary Negligence in Michigan
Call Toll-Free 24 Hours:

Difference between Medical Malpractice and Ordinary Negligence in Michigan

Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran

The very best medical malpractice lawyers know that the kind of claim you file is imperative for the success of your case and compensation amount. There is a profound legal difference between claims of ordinary negligence and medical malpractice claims.

The type of claim you file is the very basis of your allegations and therefore has a strong impact on whether your case will progress through a court held case in the Michigan court system. Knowing this information will not only help you decide on the right medical attorney but also helps you build expectations for your upcoming case.

What is medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice is when a patient suffers at the hands of their doctor due to medical negligence or violations of their caretaker position and standard of care. There is more issue surrounding intent featured in medical malpractice cases. Medical malpractice can occur at any point during the medical care process, whether it be during the diagnosis, treatment or aftercare.

Necessary components for medical malpractice claims in Michigan:

  • Proof of a doctor or caretaker-patient relationship.
  • Proof that the medical professional deviated from his or her standard duties (which includes doing nothing when actions should have been taken).
  • Proof that any sustained injuries were a direct result of this deviation.
  • Proof that the injury led to specific physical, economic, or mental damage.

Medical malpractice cases must be filed two years following the injury-causing act.

What is ordinary negligence

Ordinary negligence is a cornerstone of most personal injury cases in Michigan. Similarly to medical malpractice cases, one party (not confined to the realm of medicine or health care) must have failed to exercise the expected degree of care and attention, which left you injured. However, medical negligence does not involve intent. The medical practitioner did not commit the act of negligence with the intent to cause harm or the knowledge that the action might result in harm to the patient.

Michigan also recognizes comparative negligence cases in which a defendant is only responsible for a portion of the plaintiff’s injuries.

The following elements are needed to file a negligence claim:

  • Proof that the defendant was legally obligated to ensure your safety and well-being.
  • Proof that the defendant did not meet this obligation.
  • Proof that without this failure, you would not have been injured.
  • Proof that no other actions or people could have caused your injury.
  • Proof of damages directly relating to this injury.

In Michigan, negligence cases can be filed up to three years after the initial incident.

Is there a legal differentiation between medical malpractice and ordinary negligence?

medical malpractice and ordinary negligence

In some instances, it can be extremely difficult to determine whether a case concerns medical malpractice or ordinary negligence, especially if the incident occurred in a hospital or similar environment.

In mid-2018, Michigan’s Supreme Court issued their legal opinion regarding the difference between medical malpractice and ordinary negligence claims after a lawsuit had been filed against a Michigan hospital.

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff was admitted to the hospital after suffering from an aneurysm, which lead to a stroke and cardiac arrest. During her treatment, the plaintiff claimed that an aide dropped her twice while attempting to help her move to the bathroom. Due to the fall, the plaintiff suffered from a torn rotator cuff and bleeding in her brain. She subsequently had to undergo multiple surgeries to correct the damage.

In her claim, she argued that the hospital was negligent in multiple ways not limited to failing to properly train the aide, failing to ensure their patients’ safety, and failing to provide enough staff to take care of her during her treatment.

However, she filed this claim three years after the incident, which barred her from introducing the incident as a medical malpractice claim according to the statute of limitations. She explained to the court that she was filing a negligence claim. The case eventually landed in the Michigan Supreme Court, where judges had to decide whether the plaintiff’s claim was founded in medical malpractice or ordinary negligence.

The final opinion from the Michigan Supreme Court is surprisingly simple. Medical malpractice claims are cases which require expert testimony to determine whether the defendant acted negligently. Ordinary negligence cases, however, do not require expert testimony and the final decision can be reached by the jury based upon their own knowledge and experience.

If you are confused about whether your case would fall under medical malpractice or ordinary negligence, contact the best medical malpractice lawyers in Michigan at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. Our in-house medical expert, nurse, and malpractice lawyer Eileen Kroll is available for a free consultation at 866-MICH-LAW. Our law firm never charges a fee unless a recovery is made.

Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.

Tim is a writer and editor who earned his Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Maryland and calls Washington, D.C., home after spending most of his adult life in the country's capital. Although Tim spent most of his post-college years in the restaurant industry, he became interested in writing about legal matters after he recently moved to Colombia. Today, Tim writes professionally about medical malpractice, drug policies, and workplace injuries. Tim is focused on curating his freelancing career and plans to work remotely for as long he can.



Testimonial Image


There is no obligation for a case evaluation & no fee is charged unless a recovery is made.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Your privacy is important to us. Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. does not share, sell, rent, or trade personally identifiable or confidential information with third parties for any purpose.
Call Now Button