Your Cincinnati Medical Malpractice Case: The Basics

Healthcare providers sometimes make mistakes. Proving that those mistakes were due to negligence can be difficult and confusing process. If you've been injured or harmed because of a doctor, nurse, or other health care provider in Cincinnati, you might be considering a medical malpractice lawsuit. To be sure, your journey through a medical malpractice case can be a windy road. Hospitals and doctors have many resources to defend themselves from these types of claims.

Let's start with some basic laws, rules, and terminology to get you acquainted with before you begin. Here at FindLaw we've put together key, general information about Cincinnati medical malpractice lawsuits.

The Basics: What is Medical Malpractice?

"Medical malpractice" is sometimes referred to as medical negligence. Medical malpractice can result from an action you doctor took or didn't take. It happens when a healthcare provider causes injury to a patient as a result of negligence or wrongdoing. The mistake could be an error in prescribing medication, incorrect diagnosis of illness or injury, or a surgical mistake. An injured patient may recover for the damages incurred by a medically negligent healthcare provider.

State Medical Board of Ohio

A "healthcare provider" is anyone licensed to perform medical services on patients by the State Medical Board of Ohio including physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, dentists, and chiropractors, counselors, psychologists and psychotherapists. If you think you've been harmed or injured by a doctor's negligence, you might consider filing a complaint with the Board.

Time Limit

Procrastinators, beware. You don't have eons to file your lawsuit. In Ohio, there is a "statute of limitations." You have one year from when you discover or should have reasonably discovered your injury but no more than four years after the alleged negligent act or omission happened to you. First, give your health care provider notice of the lawsuit. Then, you have to file the actual lawsuit in a Cincinnati court within 180 days after that.

The time limit is longer for children and persons deemed mentally incompetent.

What are some examples of medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice can happen in a variety of ways -- some more outrageous than others. Sometimes a doctor might misdiagnosis a disease or medical condition; other times the doctor makes an error in when prescribing a medication. The most egregious is when a doctor makes a surgical error such as or anesthesia-related mistake such as leaving a surgical tool inside a person such as scissors, needles, scalpels, sponges, or surgical clamps. Yes, it happens!

Damages Cap

In Ohio, there is a limit to the amount of money you can recover for a medical malpractice suit. This is also known as a "damages cap." Some types of damages have a cap and some don't.

One type is known as compensatory damages -- those that compensate you for actual costs, including medical bills and loss of wages for days of work missed. There are no caps in Ohio on compensatory damages.

Another type is known as non-economic damages -- they compensate you for things such as pain and suffering. Ohio medical malpractice law limits the amount of money a patient may collect for non-economic damages to either $250,000 or three times compensatory damages, whichever is greater. Furthermore, there is an additional cap of $350,000 per patient, meaning that three times compensatory damages cannot exceed this amount. However, this amount increases to $500,000 if the patient's injuries are substantial, such as the loss of a limb or severe deformity.

Finally, there are punitive damages -- those meant to punish the health care provider for their actions. Ohio caps punitive damages at two times compensatory damages.

State Run Hospital

Some hospitals in Cincinnati are considered "government entities" and special rules apply when suing them. Doctors and other staff members at those hospitals may also be considered government employees.

Under Ohio law, you can only sue the government and it's employees in a special court known as the Court of Claims. These cases are usually tried before a judge or panel of judges, not a jury. Any cases against the government must be brought within two years. If you don't do this, you might automatically lose your claim, even if it's valid.

Final Roundup

There are times when a patient may suffer a medical complication through no fault of the physician or hospital. Your injury might be serious, but there hasn't been malpractice. It's not always easy to tell, and expert advice is often crucial. You may want to consider consulting with an experienced Cincinnati medical malpractice attorney who is skilled at reviewing cases early on to help determine how to proceed.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.