What Is the Statute of Limitations on a Medical Malpractice Case

Medical malpractice. Medical suit, stethoscope and documents.

Medical malpractice occurs when doctors or other healthcare providers make mistakes and hurt their patients. Some cases of medical malpractice are obvious, like when a surgeon operates on the wrong body part or leaves surgical tools inside the patient. Other times, medical malpractice is more difficult to detect, like if the patient was prescribed the wrong medication, a doctor misdiagnosed a serious condition, or a surgeon made a mistake during surgery.

Regardless of the specific nature of the medical malpractice, if you believe you were injured because a doctor was negligent, you may have a medical malpractice case. To protect your rights, you must understand that strict time limits apply to your claim. If you do not act quickly, your right to recover financial compensation could be seriously compromised.

Proving a Case of Medical Malpractice

If you suffered from medical malpractice injuries, you and your family are entitled to compensation. To prove a medical malpractice case, you must show that:

  • A doctor-patient relationship existed;
  • The doctor’s conduct fell below the acceptable standard of care (i.e., the doctor was negligent);
  • The negligence caused your injuries; and
  • The injuries caused damages.

Not every bad outcome means that a doctor committed malpractice. But doctors are required to follow best practices and do their best to care for patients. When a doctor makes a mistake that falls outside of accepted medical standards, they may be liable for medical negligence.

How Long Do You Have to File a Medical Malpractice Case?

The statute of limitations is the law that sets the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit. The statute of limitations varies from state to state, and there are even different statutes of limitations within the same state depending on the type of claim you are filing.

Understanding the statute of limitations is crucial in any personal injury claim, and medical malpractice is no exception. In Ohio, the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice case is one year from the date the negligence occurred. This is the shortest statute of limitations in Ohio and one of the shortest statutes of limitations in the country.

A victim of medical malpractice only has one year to bring a lawsuit against negligent healthcare providers. If you fail to file your medical malpractice case within one year, your claim will be time-barred.

When Does the Statute of Limitations Start?

Unlike a car accident, where the date of injury is clear, medical negligence can take time to discover. It can be difficult to determine exactly when the one-year statute of limitations period begins to run.

Ohio courts have determined that the one-year time period begins on the date you discovered or reasonably should have discovered the injury or when your relationship with the medical provider ends, whichever is later.

The statute of limitations can be longer than one year if you could not have reasonably discovered the injury or in cases in which a surgical instrument or other foreign object was left in your body during a medical procedure.

Ohio also recognizes an exception for minors. If the victim was under the age of 18 when the medical malpractice occurred, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the victim turns 18 and the victim discovers or reasonably should have discovered the injury.

Determining when the statute of limitations begins to run can be complicated. If you think you may have been the victim of medical malpractice, you should contact the medical malpractice lawyers at RKPT as quickly as possible.

What If the Victim of Medical Malpractice Died?

Tragically, many cases of medical negligence result in the death of the patient. When someone dies because a doctor was negligent, the family of the deceased person can file a wrongful death claim.

Unlike medical malpractice claims, which are governed by a one-year statute of limitations, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim is two years.

Even though claims for medical malpractice and wrongful death often overlap, each claim has different elements and different remedies available. To preserve your rights, it is best to file a claim for medical negligence and wrongful death within the shorter one-year statute of limitations that applies to the medical malpractice claim.

RKPT’s Ohio Medical Malpractice Lawyers

Cases of medical malpractice are often incredibly complex. They are almost always vigorously contested and are notoriously difficult to win. But because medical negligence often results in catastrophic, life-changing injuries, these cases are some of the most gratifying and important cases a personal injury lawyer can handle.

To bring a medical malpractice case, you will need to identify the defendants, contact an attorney, obtain the relevant medical records, and have them reviewed by an expert, all before you can even file your lawsuit.

Because of the complexity of investigating, filing, and successfully litigating a claim for medical malpractice, you should not attempt to bring a case for medical malpractice alone.

If you or someone you love was injured because of medical negligence, call (513) 721-3330 or contact the experienced medical malpractice attorneys at RKPT as soon as possible. Our offices are located in Cincinnati and we help people throughout Ohio.