The birth of your child was one of the greatest moments of your life. But sometimes, it was also traumatic because the doctor, hospital, or another party negligently harmed your newborn.
While you did everything in your power to help your child, it was costly, and you want to know if you can get compensation from the responsible party. In birth injury cases, you can get compensation but only if you act within the statute of limitations.
The Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Cases
Ohio state law significantly limits the time you have to take legal action after a medical malpractice case. Unless some type of exception applies, you generally only have one year from the date of discovery of the injury to file a lawsuit.
Factors That Impact the Date of Discovery
Medical malpractice injuries often aren’t obvious when they occur, especially in infants. This is why the statute of limitations is based on the date of discovery and not the date of the injury.
However, that doesn’t mean you can just delay consulting with a doctor if you suspect your child suffered a birth injury. The true date of discovery is the day that you reasonably should have discovered your child was injured.
Special Considerations for Minor Plaintiffs
Minors have fewer rights than adults. While this is often frustrating, it is a boon for birth injury cases. Because minors can’t legally act on their behalf, they are given extra time to take legal action.
According to the law, minors aren’t considered to be mentally competent until they reach adulthood, and people who legally can’t understand their cases can’t file lawsuits.
Tolling of the Statute
For minors, the statute of limitations in birth injury cases is tolled until they turn 18. This means that regardless of when the injury is discovered, the clock doesn’t start until their 18th birthday.
You can file a lawsuit for your child before they become an adult. But you can also wait and allow your child to file a birth injury lawsuit after they turn 18. Effectively, the tolling of the statute gives your child until their 19th birthday to take legal action.
Even if you choose to wait, though, you should contact a medical malpractice attorney as soon as you discover the injury. This will help your case whenever you choose to file.
The Statute of Repose
There is one other consideration of the statute of limitations — the statute of repose. This statute places a hard limit on how long civil litigants have to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. Regardless of any exceptions to the statute of limitations, you can’t file a medical malpractice claim more than four years after an injury occurred.
This may seem to contradict the tolling rule, but it does not. When the statute is tolled, that four-year clock doesn’t start.
Why It’s Important to File a Claim in a Timely Manner
While the law may allow you roughly 19 years to file a lawsuit, it is rarely a good idea to wait that long. Typically, the sooner you file a medical malpractice case, the better it will be for you and your child. The following factors make it important to file quickly.
With every year that passes, it gets harder to collect evidence of medical negligence. Medical records disappear, and medical professionals involved with your child’s birth leave the profession. The earlier a medical malpractice lawyer gets involved with your case, the more high-quality evidence they will collect.
Until you file your claim, you won’t be able to get money from the liable party. This means you must pay for any medical treatments for your child without assistance. And that often means they won’t get the care they need. You want the best for your child, and that means filing a claim as soon as possible.
Is There Ever a Reason to Delay Filing a Claim in Birth Injury Cases?
Yes. Sometimes, it isn’t clear how badly your child was injured, and their doctors may want more time to test and diagnose your child. In this type of situation, you may be able to get more compensation by waiting, especially if your doctor discovers a serious condition during that time.
If you do wait for some reason, carefully keep all medical records and receipts and consult with your lawyer regularly. Keeping these records will increase the likelihood that an experienced lawyer can get you fair compensation when you finally file a claim.
What Are Common Birth Injuries?
Some of the more common birth injuries are:
- Facial nerve injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Shoulder dystocia
- Head injuries, including scalp abrasions
If you see any signs of these injuries, either at birth or sometime later, consult with a birth injury attorney immediately.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for the Wrongful Death of a Child During Birth?
You have slightly longer to take legal action if your child dies during birth. Ohio extends the statute of limitations to two years for the wrongful death of a child due to birth injury. While this extra year gives you a little time to mourn, it still is a relatively tight deadline. You should contact a lawyer as soon as you are emotionally ready.
Contact a Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Ohio When You Have a Birth Injury Claim
If your child suffered a birth injury in Ohio, the law potentially gives you up to 19 years to act. However, the law is complicated, and many factors can affect that timeframe. Contact the experienced birth injury lawyers at The Moor Law Firm to find out how much time you have and what you can do to improve your case before you file a lawsuit.