Most people have heard of the “statute of limitations” (SOLs) when it comes to taking legal action. However, there are many misunderstandings about SOLs that might hinder the average person from pursuing justice, especially in medical malpractice and personal injury cases. How long does a potential plaintiff have to file a lawsuit? Also, how does the Statute of Limitations vary by the victim’s age? Tittle & Perlmuter is here to answer some common questions.
Q: How long does a victim of medical malpractice or personal injury have to file a lawsuit?
It varies from state to state. In Ohio, according to the Ohio Revised Code Title XXIII, victims have two years from the date of the incident to file a lawsuit in personal injury cases. The law involving medical malpractice is a bit more complicated. According to the Ohio Revised Code, a victim of malpractice generally has one year to take action, but there are exceptions: “If prior to the expiration of the one-year period specified in division (A) of this section, a claimant who allegedly possesses a medical, dental, optometric, or chiropractic claim gives to the person who is the subject of that claim written notice that the claimant is considering bringing an action upon that claim, that action may be commenced against the person notified at any time within one hundred eighty days after the notice is so given.”
Q: Do SOLs vary according to the age of the victim?
Yes. In Ohio, a victim can file a medical malpractice lawsuit within two years of turning eighteen, no matter how old the person was when the injury occurred. Basically, according to Edgar Snyder and Associates, “Except in the case of wrongful death, the statute of limitations begins to run on the minor’s 18th birthday.” The reasoning behind the special exception for minors is that children who may not have had the ability to speak up for themselves at the time of the injury should have the right to take legal action once they become adults.
Q: Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the Statute of Limitations?
The Statute of Limitations hasn’t changed. However, the Ohio Legislature has passed bills protecting the health care industry, as well as schools and government entities, from lawsuits related to the pandemic. According to Ohio law firm Jackson & Lewis, “Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has signed a bill granting civil immunity from certain COVID-19-related civil actions for healthcare providers, businesses, schools, individuals, and other entities…Under House Bill 606, protection from suit is provided where the claim asserts that an injury, death, or loss to person or property was caused by either the exposure to or the transmission or contraction of MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, or SARS-CoV-2 or any mutation hereof (which includes what we now refer to as COVID-19). Suit may only be brought, according to this bill, if it is established that the exposure, transmission, or contraction was by reckless conduct, intentional misconduct, or willful or wanton misconduct on the part of the person against whom the action is brought.”
This new legislation doesn’t make it impossible to file suit, especially if the health care provider or business was willfully reckless. However, it might make your case more difficult to prove in court. If you believe you’ve been a victim of malpractice or personal injury, your best bet is to contact an attorney who can review the details and determine if you have a viable case.