If you've been injured or harmed because of a doctor, nurse, or other health care provider in Columbus, you might be considering a medical malpractice lawsuit. To be sure, your journey through a medical malpractice case will be different than what you've seen on an episode of your favorite TV hospital drama. There are some basic laws, rules, and terminology you'll want to get acquainted with before you begin. Here at FindLaw we've put together some basic information to serve as a helpful starting point.
Definition of Medical Malpractice
"Medical malpractice" is sometimes referred to as medical negligence. What does that mean? It means a health care provider acted below the industry standard of care when treating a patient and injuries resulted. The injured patient may recover for the damages incurred by a medically negligent healthcare provider in a medical malpractice action. Medical malpractice can result from an action your doctor took or didn't take.
Who is considered a health care provider?
It's anyone licensed to perform medical services on patients including physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, dentists, and chiropractors, counselors, psychologists, and psychotherapists.
What are some examples of medical malpractice?
These are just a few:
What is the time limit to file my medical malpractice suit in Columbus?
In legal terms, it's called a "statute of limitations." You have one year to file a lawsuit from when you discover or should have reasonably discovered your injury. At that time, you have to give your health care provider notice of the lawsuit. Then, you must file the actual lawsuit within 180 days after that. All of this will likely take place in a Columbus courthouse.
So, does this mean you have an infinite amount of time to file your lawsuit? No, the maximum amount of time you have to file is four years after the negligent act occurred. The time limit is longer for children and persons deemed mentally incompetent.
What if the county or state runs the hospital?
This is a very important distinction. Some hospitals in Columbus 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 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, it can result in losing your claim automatically.
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 the amount of compensatory damages in a case, 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 Medical Board
You may wish to report any potential medical malpractice claims to the State Medical Board of Ohio -- the agency that governs medical licenses for physicians and physician's assistants. While the licensing board typically can't order the doctor to compensate you, they can issue warnings or discipline to the practitioner and may be able to provide you with guidance about your next steps.
A Final Word About Medical Malpractice in Columbus
Because the requirements in Ohio and throughout the country are so complex, it may be advisable to speak with a qualified medical malpractice lawyer in Columbus to protect your ability to file a claim and possibly obtain compensation for your injuries.
Contact a qualified attorney.