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The statute of limitations on medical malpractice claims in Ohio

Back in mid-April, we discussed some of the most legal theories doctors in Ohio may use when defending themselves from a medical malpractice lawsuit. One common way that malpractice claims fail is for the judge to rule that the plaintiff waited too long to file suit; in other words, the statute of limitations has run out on the claim.

Under Ohio law, the general rule is that would-be plaintiffs have one year after the cause of action “accrued” to sue a doctor or other medical professional for malpractice. However, there are exceptions.

For instance, a potential plaintiff can extend the deadline to file suit by up to 180 days by providing written notice to the physician within the statutory period that he or she is considering a lawsuit. Also, when the injuries caused by the malpractice could not reasonably have been discovered within three years of the allegedly negligent care, the clock starts ticking at the time the plaintiff discovers the injury, and lasts one year.

In cases where the case concerns a foreign object allegedly left inside the body, the patient has a year to file, either from the date he or she discovered the object or reasonably should have.

If the lawsuit is not filed within the legally permitted time frame, the defendant should be able to get the case dismissed, regardless of the facts of the case. One reason for statutes of limitations on personal injury cases like medical malpractice claims is to give the defendant a fair chance to defend him- or herself, before memories fade and key pieces of evidence are lost.

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