Ohio ranks high among the 50 state for the number of medical malpractice suits filed each year. In 2015 there were nearly 28 cases per 100,000 people in the state, which ranks Ohio 14th. For those cases there was a total payout of $88.7 million to all the plaintiffs who won justice for the harm caused to them and damages for their expenses.
Those cases were won by experienced Ohio medical malpractice lawyers and legal teams dedicated solely to fighting for the rights of victims of medical negligence. If you have been harmed by a doctor it he state, make sure you find a lawyer who only takes malpractice cases. This is how you can guarantee you will have the best opportunity to win your case.
Ohio Medical Malpractice Laws
Victims of medical negligence in Ohio can rely on their malpractice lawyers to help them make sense of the laws in the state, but it also helps to have a basic understanding in order to feel empowered and not completely lost. The statute of limitations is something everyone should know because it limits the time during which a lawsuit can be filed. In Ohio that limit is just one year from the time the negligence occurred.
There is also a discovery rule that says a patient may have one year from the time he or she discovered the negligence as long as it could not have been discovered sooner. There is a strict limit, though, of four years after the actual negligent act occurred. The one year deadline may also be extended by up to six months if the defendant is officially notified.
Damages caps are also important for patients to understand because they limit the amount of compensation that can be won. In Ohio, economic damages are unlimited and cover all actual expenses, like medical bills. Non-economic damages, for things like pain or emotional suffering, are limited to $250,000 or three times the economic damages, up to $350,000.
Affidavit of Merit and Expert Witnesses
The cap on damages is controversial, and in some states has even been declared unconstitutional. It stands in Ohio, as does another controversial law, which some say limits a patient’s ability to get a fair trial. This is the requirement that an affidavit of merit be submitted when a lawsuit is filed. A qualified medical professional must review the records and evidence, and state that in their opinion the plaintiff was harmed by a breach in the standard of care.
A lawsuit can only be proven with the testimony of expert witnesses, and the state of Ohio has strict rules for what that means. It must be someone who is licensed in the state to practice medicine and who spends at least three-quarters of their professional time working in the same field or specialty as that involved in the case.
Medical Malpractice Cases in Ohio
Ohio medical malpractice lawyers work hard to ensure that lawsuits end in favor of their clients as often as possible. They use experience and a good understanding of the laws to fight in settlements and trials to prove negligence and to win both justice and the much needed damages that the victims need to get their lives back on track.
One example of a case that went in favor of the plaintiff, thanks to the hard work of his legal team. The plaintiff was a doctor who was performing surgery on a patient at the Cleveland Clinic in 2010. A chip of bone from the patient hit and damaged his eye. A year later he underwent a procedure at the Cleveland Clinic to have the damaged eye repaired. The operating physician caused more damage, tearing a hole through his iris. The injury is severe enough that he can no longer work as a surgeon. The doctor and his lawyers sued the Cleveland Clinic and the operating physician. In a trial the jury agreed that he was harmed by negligence and awarded him $7.7 million for lost wages and future earnings.
In another case that has yet to be settled the defendants are denying any negligence. The case is a tragic one because it resulted in a fatality. The family of the deceased man sued a clinic and the Ohio State University Medical Center after he died there in 2016 from a flesh-eating bacterial infection. His family claims they repeatedly asked emergency room staff if he should get antibiotics and their concerns were ignored. The man died after suffering severe sepsis and cardiac arrest. The family is seeking both compensatory damages for medical costs and emotional suffering.
A large case involving multiple patients is currently under way against University Hospitals in Cleveland. The plaintiffs are women and couples whose frozen eggs or embryos in storage were mistakenly destroyed. The hospital informed more than 700 patients that the temperature rose in a storage facility, that the alarm that should have notified staff of the warming temperature was turned off, and that the maintenance on the unity had been done incorrectly. As a result, the eggs and embryos were left inviable.
The lawsuit that plaintiffs are bringing against the hospital is unique because the mistake is an unusual one that did not cause physical harm to the patients. The plaintiffs may win economic damages for the costs of storing new eggs and embryos, or non-economic damages for emotional suffering. They may also win punitive damages against the hospital. These are damages designed to punish the negligent part and are rarely awarded in medical malpractice cases. This may be an exception because of the severity and extend of the mistakes made.
Finding an Ohio Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Cases like these happen all the time and if it happens to you, rely on an Ohio medical malpractice lawyer to take your case and guide the important decisions you need to make. Start with the state bar association or rely on someone you trust for a referral. Be sure that you find a lawyer who only specializes in malpractice cases because success in these suits depends on having experience and extensive knowledge.
You should feel comfortable asking the lawyer you’re hiring about his or her experiences with settlement agreements and trials, outcomes and damages won, and the satisfaction of previous clients. When you feel comfortable that you have chosen the right lawyer with good experience, you will know that you have a professional fighting on your side giving you the best possible chance of winning justice and holding the responsible parties accountable for the harm caused.