Medical Malpractice FAQ's

 

How much time do I have to bring a claim?

Under Ohio law, a medical malpractice lawsuit must be filed within one year from the later of one of two dates. This is known as the statute of limitations. Those dates are (1) when you discover the injury or (2) from the last date of treatment with the negligent medical provider. There are exceptions to this rule. Therefore, if you think you or a loved one has suffered due to medical malpractice it is imperative that you contact us at your earliest possible convenience so that we can provide you with an opinion as to whether or not you have a potential medical negligence claim. If a loved one has passed away due to medical negligence the family has a separate claim known as a wrongful death lawsuit. This is subject to a two year statute of limitations from the date of death.

 

What is my case worth?

Many factors are taken into consideration when determining the level of compensation to which you are entitled. The severity of the injury is perhaps the most important factor. We are able to provide advice as to the reasonable value of your claim based on our years of experience in handling medical malpractice, nursing home negligence, personal injury and wrongful death cases. The following is a list of recent awards we obtained for our clients.

$8,300,000.00 – Jury verdict
Failure of physician to order necessary test resulting in severe brain damage

$5,200,000.00 – Jury verdict
Obstetrician mistake resulting in cerebral palsy of infant

$3,800,000.00 – Settlement
Man paralyzed from the waist down following motorcycle crash

$2,600,000.00 – Settlement
Failure of nurse to check blood sugar of diabetic patient resulting in permanent brain injury

$1,900,000.00 – Settlement
Delay in diagnosis of cervical cancer

$1,500,000.00 – Settlement
Delay in diagnosis of colon cancer

$1,500,000.00 – Settlement
Home health nurse’s failure to properly monitor ventilator resulting in severe brain injury

$1,500,000.00 – Settlement
Delay in diagnosis of ovarian cancer

$1,130,000.00 – Settlement

Misread MRI film resulting in partial paralysis

$1,100,000.00 – Settlement 
Family physician’s failure to monitor Marfan’s Syndrome resulting in dissection of the aorta resulting in death

$1,042,000.00 – Jury verdict
Neurosurgeon’s improper placement of drain during brain surgery resulting in patient’s death

$1,000,000.00 – Jury verdict
Amputation of leg after knee replacement surgery

$975,000.00 – Settlement

Failure to tell patient of abnormal EKG results in Emergency Room resulting in patient’s preventable heart attack and death

$975,000.00 – Jury verdict
Family physician’s failure to monitor medication dosages

$975,000.00 – Settlement
Failure to properly monitor for pulmonary embolus after skin graft resulting in death

$950,000.00 – Settlement
Orthopedic surgeon’s failure to correctly perform spinal surgery

$900,000.00 – Settlement
Misdiagnosis of breast cancer for three years

$850,000.00 – Settlement
Failure to diagnose a heart problem

 

Do I have a medical malpractice case?  Can an attorney help me determine whether I was the victim of medical malpractice?

Determining whether medical malpractice has occurred can be challenging. Sometimes mistakes happen or there are bad outcomes that are not the fault of the medical provider at other times, physicians are negligent when they fail to follow the accepted standard of care and their patients are injured as a result. At the O’Keefe Firm, we have years of experience in evaluating medical negligence cases. We conduct our own independent medical research and obtain the opinion of medical experts to determine whether or not you may be eligible for compensation.

In order to prove medical negligence, one must show that their doctor deviated from the accepted level of medical care that could have been reasonably expected from a physician. Deviations that may support a medical malpractice claim include: surgical errors; medication errors; infections from hospitals; delayed diagnosis of cancer; cerebral palsy; paralysis; pulmonary embolus; spinal cord injury; strokes, heart attacks; brain injury; breast cancer; birth injury; tools, sponges, towels or objects left behind in your body after surgery; surgery on the wrong site; treatment without your informed consent; being given the wrong medication or the wrong dose; being treated with unsterile equipment; or a misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose a serious condition.

Your attorney can help you determine whether you were the victim of  medical malpractice. Attorneys conduct independent medical research with the assistance of physicians and nurses to determine whether medical negligence occurred. A poor medical outcome alone does not automatically mean medical malpractice was committed. In order to receive compensation, you must prove that the defendant failed to provide reasonable care. Please feel free to call usanytime for free a consultation to help you get your questions answered.


Can I file a medical malpractice claim against the specialist?

Medical malpractice court cases have been filed against specialists, and if your specialist caused you injury due to negligent care, you may be able to file a claim, too. Medical specialists are held to a higher standard than general practitioners because of their high skill level. Therefore, when a specialist breaches the acceptable standard of care and causes you harm, you can hold him or her accountable through a physician malpractice claim.


Can I file a medical malpractice claim for misdiagnosis?

If your doctor exercised his judgment but his care did not fall below the standard of care, you may not have a case. The law does not require doctors to be perfect, only to follow standard procedures in seeking to diagnose and treat illnesses or injuries.


Do I need to get my medical records before I call an attorney?

No. You do not need to obtain your medical records before speaking with an attorney. However, if you have copies of your record, it will allow the evaluation of your case to proceed more quickly. Many times your case will be reviewed by a physician or nurse in order to determine if medical malpractice has occurred. This requires a thorough evaluation of your medical records. If you do not bring your medical records to your appointment with your attorney, you will be asked to sign a medical waiver, releasing your medical records to our office so that a proper investigation may be carried out.


Are there any damage caps in Ohio medical malpractice claims
?

There is a cap on non-economic damages for medical malpractice arising out of acts or omissions on or after April 11, 2003. The basic cap is the larger of $250,000 or three times economic damages, subject to a maximum of $350,000 per plaintiff and a maximum of $500,000 per occurrence. These maximum amounts increase to $500,000 per plaintiff and $1 million per occurrence if the plaintiff has suffered permanent and substantial physical deformity, loss of use of a limb, loss of a bodily organ system, or permanent physical injury that prevents self-care. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2323.43. The cap does not apply to cases brought under the wrongful death statute, Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2323.43(G)(3), but it does limit recovery by a decedent’s estate for such non-economic damages as conscious pain and suffering experienced prior to death.


How do I find out if a doctor has been sued for medical malpractice in Ohio?

To find out if your doctor has been involved in any malpractice lawsuits you can:

  • Call the county clerk’s office in the location where the physician practices;
  • Call the state insurance department; and visit websites like www.docboard.org and search for your doctor.

Unfortunately, the Ohio State Medical Board does not provide information to the public on a physician’s malpractice claims history.


How do you define medical malpractice in Ohio?

The definition of “medical negligence” or “medical malpractice” dates back to 1928 when the Ohio Supreme Court decided Ault v. Hall (1928), 119 Ohio St. 422:

In an action against a surgeon for malpractice, the jury should be instructed that the plaintiff must show by a preponderance of the evidence and the jury must find that the defendant in the performance of his service either did some particular thing or things that physicians and surgeons of ordinary skill, care and diligence would not have done under the same or similar circumstances, or that the defendant failed or omitted to do some particular thing or things which physicians and surgeons of ordinary skill, care and diligence would have done under the same or similar circumstances.

In other words, a physician must exercise reasonable care under the circumstances.


How does a medical malpractice trial usually proceed?

Once the complaint has been filed, pre-trial preparation begins with the discovery period. The discovery of facts is often accomplished in 2 different ways: interrogatories and depositions. Interrogatories are questionnaires that witnesses fill out and are typically used for gathering preliminary details. Depositions are face-to-face interviews in which witnesses are sworn in and transcripts of the interviews are transcribed, but they do afford the attorneys the opportunity to ask follow-up questions and gather more in-depth information.

Once this data has been collected, the case moves into the actual trial phase, at which point the plaintiff (you) has the legal burden of demonstrating that malpractice occurred, which boils down to proving three main things: that a doctor-patient relationship existed in which the doctor was negligent; that the result of the negligence was direct or proximate harm; and that damages were incurred as a result of the negligence and the harm. The best way to ensure an excellent settlement for our clients is to make sure that we are well prepared and ready to go to trial. That way if the defendant’s malpractice insurance company is being unreasonable we will be ready to successfully present your case to a jury.


How does a medical malpractice lawsuit usually work?

In order to successfully prosecute a medical malpractice lawsuit, the party bringing the action (the plaintiff) must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the negligent act of a healthcare provider caused injury to the plaintiff. The entire burden of proof resides on the plaintiff; the government need not even present a witness. In order to prove its case, the plaintiff must present the testimony of qualified experts who support his position. Identifying experts and working with them is a major part of preparing your case for trial. Our firm retains only experts of impeccable character and the highest professional credentials. We do this to ensure that when we get to trial, the United States will be unable to attack our case by attacking our experts.

Once suit is filed, the parties will then enter into an important period called “discovery.”

During discovery both sides have an opportunity to force the other side to produce documents and other relevant materials such as medical records, tax returns, social security records, etc. They also have the opportunity to interview relevant witnesses under oath in a process known as a deposition. Prior to your deposition, we will work closely with you to ensure that you make the most effective presentation possible.

Finally, as part of the discovery process, an injured plaintiff may be required to undergo an independent medical examination to confirm the physical injuries alleged. The law allows the defendant to identify a qualified medical expert and force the injured party to undergo a noninvasive examination. Should this occur, we will again prepare you for the examination.

Once discovery ends, there will be a several-month delay before the actual trial. It is during this period that settlement negotiations are most likely to get underway. If settlement negotiations are unsuccessful, we will go to trial.


How much time do I have to file a child’s medical malpractice claim?

A medical malpractice action must be commenced within one year after the cause of action accrues. However, if, at the time the injury occurs, the claimant is a minor or of unsound mind, the one-year statutes are tolled until the disability is removed (the minor reaches 18) Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2305.16. However, with the passage of time it can be more difficult to pursue the case as memories can fade or witnesses may have moved away. We recommend contacting our office right away for a free consultation to make sure you understand all of your rights and to have all of your questions answered.


How much time do I have to file a medical malpractice lawsuit?

The deadline to file a lawsuit for medical negligence in Ohio is one year from the date of injury; however, there are several exceptions. In order to ensure that you do not fall outside the statute of limitations for your claim, it is important to see an attorney to discuss your case as soon as possible.


What is the statute of limitations for medical malpractice, nursing home negligence or hospital malpractice?

A medical malpractice action must be commenced within one year after the cause of action accrues. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2305.113. A cause of action for medical malpractice accrues when the claimant discovers or, in the exercise of reasonable care and diligence, should have discovered the resulting injury, or when the physician-patient relationship for that condition terminates, whichever occurs later. Frysinger v. Leech, 32 Ohio St. 3d 38, 512 N.E.2d 337 (1987). If a malpractice claimant gives written notice to the prospective defendant within the one-year limitation period, the claimant may bring an action at any time within 180 days of that notice. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2305.113).

A four-year statute of repose applies to claims arising out of acts or omissions on or after April 11, 2003. A claim must be brought within four years of the act or omission, except that a claimant has one full year from discovery, even if this exceeds four years, for claims discovered after three years or claims based on a foreign object left in the body only. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2305.113


How should I choose a medical malpractice attorney?

After experiencing negligent medical care from a trusted physician or hospital, it can be difficult choosing an attorney from a sea of unknown names. The law firm you choose may be the most important decision you ever make about your case.  Ask each attorney you are considering how many medical malpractice cases they have actually tried. Then ask yourself, for the same fee, wouldn’t you rather have the experience and expertise of The O’Keefe Firm to represent you?

Here are several things you should look for when hiring an attorney to represent you:

  • Experience: All attorneys are not created equal. Many attorneys today work as general practice attorneys, meaning they handle all types of cases from criminal matters to civil suits. However, if you have experienced a case of medical negligence, it is important to have an attorney who specializes in medical malpractice. You do not want a lawyer whose first trial is going to be this case. Even attorneys who specialize in civil matters rarely go to court, as many of their cases settle without a trial. At The O’Keefe Firm, Stephen O’Keefe has had years of actual trial experience specializing in medical malpractice cases. Although your case may be resolved without stepping into the courtroom, you can be assured that Mr. O’Keefe has the trial experience necessary to fight for your rights in front of a jury.
  • Personality: Make sure you and your prospective attorney connect on a personal level. Some people just don’t click, and that’s something you need to take into account when choosing a lawyer.
  • Cost: Your prospective attorney should offer you a free consultation. Our consultations are always free. No client should be turned away from legal aid simply because they cannot afford a consultation fee. Once you have met with an attorney and have decided to hire him/her, you should discuss prospective costs of the case. In medical malpractice cases, clients frequently pay nothing upfront. In fact, a client only pays if they win their case. Usually, an attorney will work on a “contingency fee” basis, earning a percentage of the settlement or jury verdict. Be sure to ask your attorney whether she/he will be responsible for the costs of the litigation. The cost of litigating a case can easily run into the tens of thousands of dollars.
  • Reputation: Check with friends, colleagues, judges, and other lawyers. Hopefully, you or your family will never have need for a medical malpractice attorney. If you are left without someone to offer a personal recommendation, an internet search can be a valuable tool. 

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