At Mishkind Kulwicki Law, we are frequently asked how long do I have to file a medical claim. In Ohio when a doctor or hospital or nursing home is negligent and the negligence causes injury, the statute of limitations depends on whether the injury is to a child or an adult. If the injury is to a child, then the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the child’s 18th birthday and then the child has until his or her 19th birthday to file a lawsuit. The statute of limitations is tolled during the child’s minority. The claim that the child’s parents have is also tolled until the child turns 18.
If the injury is to an adult (over the age of 18), the statute of limitations is one year from the later of the date that the doctor-patient relationship ends for the condition in question or the discovery of injury due to the negligent act. Often, it is difficult to fully appreciate when the one year begins to run and it is critical that if you or a loved one believes that you might have a case, it is important not to delay as the time to investigate is limited and your attorney has to gather a lot of information to determine if you have a case before the deadline. While there are steps that can be taken to extend the deadline for an additional six (6) months, time passes quickly and you need to trust your lawyer to evaluate your particular claim in a timely manner.
If you continue to treat with the doctor or remain a resident in the nursing home where you were injured for a period greater than four (4) years and fail to file a lawsuit during that period, you will be barred from filing a lawsuit, even though you have not terminated your doctor-patient relationship or have not discovered that the condition that you developed was due to negligence on the part of your doctor, hospital or nursing home. This four-year deadline is called the statute of repose.
Ohio just upheld the four-year statute of repose in the Ruther v. Kaiser, 2012-Ohio-5686, and held that the General Assembly possesses the right to limit and abolish tort remedies. The 4-year statute of repose for medical malpractice actions means that a patient who discovers that a sponge was left inside her 4 years and 1 day after the surgery has no recourse.
Because the rules that apply to injuries caused by medical negligence differ significantly from injuries caused by other forms of negligence, it is crucial that you not delay in discussing with an attorney whether you have a claim. Too often we are faced with telling clients that if only they had consulted with us sooner, we could have helped them. Most people do not realize that the time period for a medical claim is shorter than other tort claims and frequently are surprised to learn that they waited too long.
We are happy to field any questions you might have about your potential claim including evaluating when your claim has to be filed and the steps that need to be taken. Call us and we will get your questions answered.