If you were injured because of the negligent or reckless actions of your health care provider, you may be able to file a medical malpractice claim. The purpose of this type of claim is to hold the provider accountable and recover compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, decreased quality of life, and pain and suffering.
There are several things you need to know about these claims, from the elements of medical malpractice to Ohio laws governing these cases. Below, our Cincinnati medical malpractice lawyers explain what you need to know.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when the treatment you receive from a doctor falls below the accepted standard of care and you suffer an injury in the process. The standard of care depends on a number of factors, including the patient’s age and health and the doctor’s specialty.
In order to prevail on a claim, your attorney must prove the following elements of medical malpractice:
- A doctor/patient relationship was in place
- There is a link between the health care provider’s negligence and your injury
- The health care provider acted in a negligent manner
- You suffered damages
Statute Of Limitations
Ohio law imposes a time limit by which a patient must file a medical malpractice lawsuit. The statute of limitations for medical malpractice actions is the window of opportunity within which the injured patient must file a lawsuit against the negligent health care provider. Once the window closes, the patient forfeits his or her right to pursue the lawsuit.
The general rule is that the lawsuit must be filed within one year from the date of the event that gave rise to the claim. However, there are exceptions to this rule, such as in the following situations:
Discovery Of Harm
In cases in which the harm is not immediately apparent or known to the patient, the discovery of harm rule may provide an extension on the statute of limitations. The discovery of harm rule allows the patient to bring a lawsuit within a year of discovering the harm or when the patient should have reasonably discovered it.
Some examples of when the discovery of harm rule may apply include:
- The health care provider overdoses the patient.
- The patient believes the symptoms he or she is experiencing are normal symptoms expected after surgery or another medical treatment.
- The health care provider fails to diagnose a condition.
- The health care provider delays a diagnosis of a condition.
The discovery of harm rule allows patients a maximum of four years after discovery of harm to file a lawsuit, regardless of when the harm is discovered.
Wrongful Death Cases
When malpractice results in a patient’s death, different statutes of limitations apply. A claim for personal loss and suffering prior to death brought by the patient’s personal representative must be filed within two years of the patient’s death, even if the medical procedure was years before this.
A wrongful death claim from the decedent’s spouse and next of kin must also be filed within two years of the patient’s death.
Ohio has damage caps that limit the amount of compensation a medical malpractice victim can recover. These caps apply to the following forms of personal injury compensation:
Damages such as pain and suffering are limited to $250,000 or three times the amount of economic damages, whichever amount is greater. Each injury victim can recover a maximum of $350,000, while the total amount of non-economic compensation cannot exceed $500,000.
The cap can be higher in the case of catastrophic injuries, including:
- Permanent and substantial physical deformity, loss of an organ system or the use of a limb
- Permanent physical injury that prevents someone from performing life-sustaining activities independently
Punitive damages seek to punish the health care provider for particularly egregious behavior. The damage cap for this category is twice the amount of compensatory damages.
However, if the defendant is a small employer or individual, punitive damages cannot exceed 10 percent of the employer’s or individual’s net worth or twice the amount of compensatory damages, whichever amount is smaller.
Attorneys fees are usually capped at the amount of non-economic damages.
Contact One Of Our Reputable Attorneys Right Now
The trusted Cincinnati personal injury attorneys of O’Connor, Acciani & Levy have represented injury victims for more than 25 years.
We have in-depth knowledge of state laws on personal injury claims and know how to apply that knowledge to the specifics of your claim.