The Clock is Ticking: You Only Have A Short Period of Time in Ohio to Bring Your Medical Malpractice Claim

Someone called a "Risk Manager" from the hospital just told you a mistake was made during your surgery.  What should have been a routine operation has now left you with a permanent injury and complications you're going to be dealing with the rest of your life.  You're stunned.  Days, weeks, and months pass as you attempt to deal with this life changing news.  The last thing on your mind is taking on the additional task of researching and hiring an attorney to help you pursue a medical malpractice claim.  However, you better not wait too long or your window of time to make your Ohio medical malpractice claim and obtain compensation for this mistake will shut, no matter how bad of error was committed.

One Year to Bring an Ohio Medical Malpractice Claim

In Ohio, you must either settle your medical malpractice claim with the responsible health care provider or file a lawsuit before the one year anniversary of the malpractice.  So for example, if your pharmacist fills your prescription with the wrong medication on December 22nd and it causes you to have an allergic reaction that requires you to be hospitalized, then you will have until December 22nd of the next year to settle your claim or file a lawsuit against the pharmacist.  This deadline can be extended by six months if the health care provider receives a special type of letter before the one year anniversary of the medical mistake.  An experienced medical malpractice lawyer will know how to prepare and serve that special letter on the potentially responsible health care providers.

Exceptions to the One Year Rule

To every rule there is an exception, and it is no different when it comes to calculating the time in which to bring an Ohio medical malpractice. If the medical mistake is made on a person who is under the age of 18, the clock on that one year deadline does not start until that person’s 18th birthday.  For example, if your daughter suffered a permanent brachial plexus injury because your doctor applied excessive traction during delivery, then your daughter has until her 19th birthday to settle her claim or file a lawsuit against the physician.

Similarly, the one year deadline is extended if the patient who is harmed is mentally incompetent.  So if your husband suffered a brain injury and is now incompetent because the anesthesiologist left the operating room during surgery and was not monitoring important medical equipment, then your husband's one year time period does not start to run until he becomes competent again.    

Finally, Ohio courts follow the “discovery rule” which means the time limit for filing a medical malpractice claim does not start until the medical mistake is discovered by the patient.  For instance, I represented a man who needed surgery to remove a cancerous kidney.  The surgery was successful, but the surgeon closed up my client before making sure all of the sponges and towels used during the surgery were removed.  Consequently, a surgical sponge was left inside of my client, his abdomen became infected, and he got very sick.  A couple of months passed before a CT scan revealed the source of the problem – the retained sponge.  In that case, the time limit for his claim did not start until the surgeon's mistake was discovered.  Even though there are exceptions to the one year rule, please be advised Ohio’s lawmakers did put a limit on some of these exceptions which is known as the "statute of repose."  This means except in the case of a retained foreign object, medical malpractice claims must be brought within four years or they will be barred.  An experienced medical malpractice attorney will be able to assist you in determining if any of these time limits apply to your situation.

Don’t Wait

If you think you or a family member or friend may have been harmed due to a medical mistake, then don’t wait to consult an attorney.  It takes time to obtain medical records and have medical experts review those documents to determine if you have a case.  The more time you give your attorney to accomplish these tasks, the better chance you have of the attorney agreeing to take your case and achieving a successful outcome on your behalf.