Ohio Medical Malpractice Laws & Statute of Limitations

Ohio Medical Malpractice Laws & Statute of Limitations


Victims of Ohio medical malpractice may be interested in knowing that the state has strict laws and statutes of limitations for these types of cases. Suppose you have been injured due to carelessness from your doctor or another medical professional. In such a scenario, it is in need to consider how Ohio law works and what steps you need to take to protect your rights. 

This article will provide an overview of Ohio's medical malpractice laws and statutes of limitations. Also, we include some essential points to remember if you are considering filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. Finally, we recommend talking to a skilled medical malpractice attorney if you have been injured due to negligent medical care.

What Is Medical Malpractice?


Medical malpractice occurs when a physician's treatment falls short of the established standard of care, resulting in harm. The appropriate standard of care is determined by a variety of criteria, including the following:

  • patient's age,
  • health status, and 
  • physician's specialization.

To win a claim, your Ohio medical malpractice lawyer must establish each of the following aspects of medical malpractice:

  • A physician-patient relationship existed.
  • There is a causative link between your injuries and the health care provider's negligence.
  • The health care practitioner was reckless.
  • You suffered damage.

Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations in Ohio


The statute of limitations for Ohio medical malpractice lawsuit is set out in O.R.C. 2305.113 (A). Generally, a medical malpractice claim must be brought within one year after the cause of action arose.

In Ohio, when a cause of action for medical malpractice arises, the one-year statute of limitations starts to run on the latest of the following three dates:

  • When the medical malpractice happened;
  • When the victim should have detected the damage through the exercise of "reasonable care and diligence"; or
  • When the doctor-patient relationship ended.

But, under O.R.C. 2305.113 (B), this one-year time may be extended. Suppose a plaintiff tells a medical practitioner or institution during the one-year limitations period that they are considering pursuing medical malpractice claims. In that case, the plaintiff has an extra 180 days to file from the date of the notice.

Discovery of Harm

When the injury is not immediately evident or known to the patient, the discovery of harm rule may allow for a statute of limitations extension. The discovery of harm rule permits the victim to sue within a year of finding the harm or when the patient should have reasonably found it.

Several instances in which the discovery of harm rule apply include the following:

  • The patient is overdosed by the health care practitioner.
  • The victim feels the symptoms are typical after-effects of surgery or another medical treatment.
  • A health care practitioner fails to diagnose the patient's condition.
  • The health care professional delays a diagnosis of the patient's condition.

The discovery of harm rule provides patients with a maximum of four years from the discovery date of the harm to bring a suit, regardless of the harm's discovery.

Wrongful Death Cases

Different statutes of limitations apply when medical malpractice results in the death of a patient. Prior to death, a claim for personal loss and suffering brought by the patient's personal representative must be filed within two years of the victim's date of death. This still applies if the medical procedure occurred years before this.

Furthermore, within two years following the patient's death, the patient's spouse and closest relatives must also file a wrongful death claim.

Ohio Medical Malpractice Statute of Repose


The statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits is set down in O.R.C. 2305.113(C). According to this statute, plaintiffs have four years from the date of the malpractice to bring suit.

But, this is subject to some exceptions as stipulated in O.R.C. 2305.113(D). To qualify for one of the following exceptions, the plaintiff must establish by clear and convincing evidence — a higher bar than a preponderance of the evidence — that they could not have found the harm sooner than they did through reasonable care and diligence.

If the plaintiff learns the harm within the last year of the four-year term and could not have found it sooner, they may file a lawsuit within one year of discovery, even though the malpractice happened more than four years ago.

Second, suppose the plaintiff was injured due to a foreign item left in their body. In that case, they may sue within one year of discovering (or when they should have discovered) the object, even if beyond the four-year limitation (Rule of Civil Procedure 10(D)(2)).

Exception for Minors

Minors or those under 18 may take advantage of an exemption to the general statutes of limitations and repose. They are considered to be under a legal disability. O.R.C. 2305.16 delays the commencement of the statute of limitations and repose periods until after the disability is eradicated.

In other words, neither the one-year statute of limitations nor the four-year statute of repose begins to run until the kid reaches the age of 18. But, parents of minor children who have been harmed by medical negligence should seek the assistance of an experienced medical malpractice attorney immediately, rather than waiting until the last minute because the law permits it.

Ohio's Affidavit of Merit" and Expert Requirements


According to Ohio Rule of Civil Procedure 10(D)(2), each medical malpractice case filed in state courts must include an "Affidavit of Merit" from an expert witness (often a physician or other qualified health care practitioner) who certifies under oath that the expert:

  • has reviewed all relevant medical records available to the plaintiff;
  • is acquainted with the medical standard of care applicable to the plaintiff's treatment;
  • believes that the standard of care was not accomplished; and
  • believes the plaintiff was harmed as a result.

Unaccompanied by an Affidavit of Merit, medical malpractice cases are subject to dismissal. But, the court is less likely to dismiss a case filed with an affidavit that does not comply with all the requirements of Rule 10(d)(2). Additionally, plaintiffs who want additional time to prepare the affidavit may seek an extension to submit it.

Ohio Medical Damage Caps


Like many other states, the Ohio legislature enacted legislation imposing a maximum on the amount of compensation that may be granted to a plaintiff who prevails in a medical malpractice claim. In other words, even if a jury finds a defendant responsible for malpractice, this statute limits the amount recovered by the plaintiff.

It is critical to understand the two primary types of damages that may occur in medical negligence cases: economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages include reimbursement for past and future medical treatment, restitution for lost income, compensation for diminished earning ability, and other financial losses caused by the misconduct. And there's no limit on the compensation amount you can receive for economic damages.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages include compensation for the defendant's medical malpractice-related pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life. Non-economic losses are sometimes referred to as "subjective" damages since they differ from plaintiff to plaintiff and are challenging to quantify in monetary terms.

The limits on medical malpractice damages in Ohio are limited to non-economic damages. Non-economic damages in a medical malpractice action are limited to a maximum of $250,000 or three times the plaintiff's economic damages — a total of $350,000 per plaintiff (or $500,000 in any case involving more than one plaintiff) under the Ohio Revised Code section 2323.43.

If the negligence resulted in specific permanent and/or catastrophic injuries, the ceiling would be increased to $500,000 per plaintiff or $1 million in cases with more than one plaintiff.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are awarded to punish the health care professional for egregious behavior. The damage cap for punitive damages is twice the amount of the compensatory damages.

But, if the defendant is a small individual or employer, these damages cannot go beyond 10% of the individual's or employer's net worth or twice the amount of compensatory damages, whichever amount is smaller.

Contact a Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Ohio to Help You


Medical malpractice is a grave issue that the people of Ohio should know about. If you have been harmed by a doctor's or nurse's medical malpractice, you should contact an Ohio medical malpractice attorney to learn more about your legal rights.

At Ryan L.L.P., we are committed to fully defending your medical malpractice claim. Our skilled legal team is here to help you during this awful time. To learn more about how we can help your Ohio medical malpractice cases, please get in touch with us today. We will begin working hard immediately to protect your rights and ensure that you receive justice if you have been a victim of a medical mistake resulting in serious injury or death.

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