Medical error is a leading cause of death and injury in the United States. Each year, tens of thousands of Americans suffer harm at the hands of medical professionals who do not provide care that meets generally accepted practices and procedures. When a physician, nurse, or hospital injures a patient during the course of treatment, the patient may be eligible for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
A bad result doesn’t always mean an actionable malpractice claim. Ohio law defines what constitutes medical negligence, the time limit for filing a claim, damage caps, and other important requirements. Malpractice claims are difficult to win, but working with an experienced Ohio personal injury attorney improves your chances of success.
The Definition of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice is another way of saying “medical negligence.” What constitutes negligent medical care is defined in the context of the standard of care. Simply suffering an undesirable outcome—or even an injury—is not sufficient grounds for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.
To have a viable claim, the patient must show that a medical professional and/or institution did (or failed to do) something, and that this act or omission caused the patient’s injury. The standard of care, however, can vary based on factors such as the medical procedure performed and the patient’s age and health. Usually, medical experts are called to testify on the patient’s behalf.
Ohio’s “Affidavit of Merit” Requirement
Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure require that medical malpractice plaintiffs file their claim with an “affidavit of merit.” This is a document executed by an appropriate medical professional affirming the merits of the malpractice claim. Specifically, the affidavit of merit states that the medical professional:
- Has reviewed the plaintiff’s medical records
- Understands the applicable standards of care
- Is of the opinion that the standard of care was not met
- Believes the breach in standard of care caused the plaintiff’s injuries
Failure to attach a physician’s certificate of merit to an Ohio medical malpractice claim can be grounds for the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s case. The dismissal, however, may not bar the plaintiff from later refiling the complaint with the required affidavit, as long as the refiling is completed within the statutory time limit.
Ohio Med Mal Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations is a law that specifies the time limit for filing a lawsuit. Under Ohio law, medical malpractice plaintiffs typically only have one year from the date a medical error occurred to initiate a claim. While exceptions apply, under no circumstances does the medical negligence statute of limitations exceed four years.
In some cases, the plaintiff may extend the statute of limitations by sending a letter to potential defendants, informing them of the plaintiff’s intention to file a malpractice lawsuit. The letter must be sent prior to the expiration of the one-year statute of limitations. If this requirement is met, the plaintiff then has 180 days to file the lawsuit.
Due to Ohio’s short filing deadline, if you think you were the victim of medical malpractice, make an appointment to speak with a lawyer right away.
The amount of compensation an injured patient seeks in a medical malpractice case is known as their “damages.” Ohio does not place a cap on medical malpractice economic damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, rehabilitation services, and other damages with a definite monetary value. But the state does cap non-economic damages (i.e., damages for things such as mental and physical pain and suffering, which are harder to assign a specific amount of money).
Non-economic damages are capped at either $250,000, or three times the economic damages—whichever is greater—with a maximum of $350,000 per plaintiff. However, in the event that an injury causes permanent and substantial deformity, loss of use of a limb, loss of a bodily organ system, or permanently prevents an injured person from being able to independently care for their needs, then there will not be any limitation on the amount of non-economic damages that can be recovered.
Southeast Ohio Contingency Fee Malpractice Attorneys
Statistics show that a large number of Ohio medical malpractice lawsuits result in no payment to claimants. Those who do prevail, however, tend to receive significant compensation.
It is vital to your case to immediately seek qualified representation. Graham & Graham handles medical malpractices lawsuits on a contingency-fee basis. That means you pay no attorneys’ fees unless we recover money for you. This billing model allows clients with meritorious cases to recover the compensation they deserve, without worrying about paying an attorney by the hour.
Speak with a malpractice lawyer, free of charge, during a complimentary case review.