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Ohio Medical Malpractice Law - An Overview

Important Notice: The following overview of Ohio's medical malpractice laws is presented on an as-is basis. This information is believed accurate as of the date of authorship, but is not intended to provide a complete analysis of medical malpractice law and may not reflect subsequent changes in the law. For a full review of Ohio's medical malpractice law, or for a determination of how the law applies to a specific incident or injury, please consult a malpractice lawyer licensed to practice in the state of Ohio.


What Is Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice, sometimes referred to as medical negligence, occurs when a health care provider violates the governing standard of care when providing treatment to a patient, causing the patient to suffer an injury. Medical malpractice can result from an action taken by the medical practitioner, or by the failure to take a medically appropriate action. Examples of medical malpractice include:

  • Misdiagnosis of, or failure to diagnose , a disease or medical condition;
  • Failure to provide appropriate treatment for a medical condition;
  • Unreasonable delay in treating a diagnosed medical condition;

Medical malpractice actions can be brought by the injured patient against any responsible licensed health care provider, including doctors, counselors, psychologists and psychotherapists.

Limits on Malpractice Damages

Non-economic damages are capped at $250,000.00 or three times the plaintiff's economic loss, not to exceed $350,000.00 per plaintiff or $500,000.00 per occurrence.

Collateral Source Rule

Under a traditional collateral source rule, a defendant may not seek to reduce its liability by introducing evidence that the plaintiff has received compensation from other sources, such as the plaintiff's own insurance coverage. For medical malpractice cases in Ohio, awards are offset by payments of collateral source benefits paid or are likely to be paid within sixthy months of the judgment, unless the source of reimbursement has a subrogation right.

Rules for Expert Witnesses

To testify as a medical expert witness, the expert must be a licensed physician or medical professional who devotes not less than 75% of his or her time to clinical practice or teaching.

Joint and Several Liability

Under a traditional rule of joint and several liability, where more than one defendant is found liable for the injury suffered by a plaintiff, each defendant is individually liable for the entire amount of the judgment, such that if one defendant is unable to pay the other defendant or defendants are liable for the entire amount of the judgment. Under Ohio law, unless they are more than 50% responsible for the plaintiff's injury, defendants are liable for non-economic damages only in proportion to their assessed fault.

Statute of Limitations

In medical malpractice actions, the plaintiff must provide notice to the defendants within one year of the act or omission giving rise to the injury. The lawsuit may be filed 180 days after notice is given, and service of the notice tolls the statute of limitations by 180 days. Medical malpractice actions based upon the presence of a foreign object inside the body must be filed within one year of the date the object is, or should have been, discovered, and may not be filed more than four years after the act resulting in the presence of the foreign object regardless of when the object is discovered. For minors, the statute of limitations is tolled until they reach the age of majority.

Limits on Attorney Fees

Ohio does not impose special limits on attorney fees in medical malpractice cases.

Additional Rules

The parties may submit the claim to non-binding arbitration, the results of which are not admissible at trial.

There is mandatory periodic payment of future damages in excess of $200,000.00 at the request of a party.

Why Use A Malpractice Lawyer

Medical malpractice law is a highly technical field of law, and malpractice lawsuits tend to be fiercely defended by well-funded defense firms.

Medical malpractice lawsuits can be exceptionally expensive to pursue, with costs often exceeding $100,000.00. Due to the technical skills involved in prosecuting a malpractice claim, the possibility that an inexperienced lawyer may not be sufficiently conversant with the medical issues, or might make a technical error which causes a case to be lost or dismissed, and the very high costs the malpractice law firm typically must advance, an injured patient is very well served by going with a specialist firm.

Even within the specialized practice of medical malpractice law, you will find that some lawyers have subspecialties of practice, for example focusing on surgical errors, misdiagnosis, or birth trauma cases.