Ohio’s statute of repose and medical malpractice claims

On Behalf of | Jun 24, 2024 | Personal Injury

Under Ohio law, a medical malpractice claim typically has to be brought “within four years after the alleged negligence or error occurred” if the claimant was aware of the malpractice. Otherwise “any action upon that claim is barred.”

There is an exception if the claimant “in the exercise of reasonable care and diligence, could not have discovered the injury resulting from the act or omission” within three years. In that case, they have a year from that discovery to bring a malpractice claim. However, they have to show that they couldn’t reasonably have discovered it within three years.

How a statute of repose differs from a statute of limitations

Ohio is among a minority of states that has a statute of repose for medical malpractice claims. It’s similar to a statute of limitations, but not identical. 

Statutes of repose typically are more favorable to defendants because they emphasize when the harm occurred as opposed to when it was discovered as the time the clock starts ticking on bringing a legal claim.

How the Ohio Supreme Court weighed in

Interpretations of Ohio’s statute of repose was at the heart of more than one case that made it to the Ohio Supreme Court last year. Just before the end of the year, the majority of the court ruled in one case that the law “is a true statute of repose and that it means what it says.”

That ruling reversed decisions by three different appeals courts in the state. In one, the justices determined that this four-year deadline applies to wrongful death cases. The appeals court had ruled that the malpractice statute of repose didn’t apply since the wrongful death suit doesn’t mention it.

The high court affirmed another appeals court ruling that the statute of repose also applies to “derivative” claims. These are claims for things like loss of consortium by family members that relate to the injury or death covered in the malpractice or wrongful death claim.

The important thing to remember is that if you believe a medical professional and/or facility is responsible for harm or death, it’s crucial to get a legal opinion as soon as possible. Otherwise, you risk the possibility of running out the clock and losing out on your ability to seek compensation and justice.

  • Avvo Top Contributor 2015 Car Accident
  • BBB Rating A+ as of 12/22/2017 Click for Profile