by John D. Holschuh Jr., Lawyer Referral Service
In Ohio, for medical malpractice, the statute of limitations is one year, which starts to run from one of three dates:
1) The date of malpractice;
2) The date you discover the injury from the malpractice; this is the date that what the Ohio Supreme Court calls a “cognizable event” occurs that puts a person on notice that the care he or she received may not have been appropriate. This is called the “Discovery Rule.”
3) The date you last saw the doctor you are complaining against for the condition you are complaining about. This is the date of the termination of the physician/patient relationship. For example, if a doctor commits medical malpractice on you and you continue to see that doctor for the condition you are complaining about, then the one year does not start to run until you end your relationship with the doctor. The idea is to allow the doctor to try to remedy and cure any problems he or she may have caused.
For children with medical malpractice cases, that one year statute of limitations doesn’t start until the child turns 18.
Under Ohio law, when the deadline is approaching for the one-year statute of limitations for medical malpractice, the plaintiff (the person considering filing suit) can send what is called a “180 Day Letter” to any potential defendant advising that he or she is investigating the potential of bringing a case. The letter has to be received by the physician before the end of the one-year statute of limitations, and gives the plaintiff 180 days from the day it was received before a lawsuit must be filed.
In Ohio, the plaintiff has the right to dismiss a medical malpractice case one time and to refile it within one year. This is called the “Rule 41(a) Dismissal.”
In addition to the statute of limitations, there is also what’s called a “statute of repose” for any medical malpractice matter. This essentially sets a time limit and means that no medical malpractice suit can be filed for any reason after four years from the date of the alleged malpractice. The constitutionality of this law is currently being challenged at the Ohio Supreme Court level.