You don’t have an unlimited amount of time to file a lawsuit. For almost every type of claim, there’s a rule called a “statute of limitations.” That rule tells you how long you have to file – miss the deadline and you lose your opportunity to make a claim at all. What is the statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Ohio?
What Is The Statute Of Limitations?
First, we need to know what the statute of limitations is and what it means for a claim. In general, these rules will give a specific time limit from the time of the incident that gave rise to the claim. In the case of personal injury, that clock will start running either at the time you were injured or at the time you reasonably should have known that you were injured. The first one is easy – it could be the date of a car crash that broke your leg.
The second one is a little more complicated, but it’s there because we don’t always know how badly we’re hurt right away and because some injuries take time to show up. It’s called the “discovery of harm” rule and it’s relatively uncommon, but can still come up. For example, you may not know that you have whiplash until a day or two after that car crash. You may not know that you’ve suffered an injury in surgery until months or even years after the procedure is finished. Imagine a surgeon leaving a surgical instrument in your body during a procedure – you may not even find out about it until years down the road during a different procedure. Note that the clock doesn’t necessarily start running when you learn that you’re hurt but when a reasonable person would know. This is an “objective” legal standard, and it means that you can’t get a longer statute of limitations by refusing to see a doctor for a year even though you know something is wrong.
If you’re injured by long-term exposure to a chemical like asbestos or a prescription drug, it’s tough to pin down the date that you knew you’d been hurt. In those cases, the discovery of harm rule generally means the statute of limitations starts to run when you’re diagnosed by a doctor as having been injured by exposure to that chemical or drug.
Personal injury statutes of limitations are typically state law issues; claims under federal law have their own rules.
Statute Of Limitations: Ohio
In Ohio, the statute of limitations for personal injury depends in part on how you were hurt.
A general personal injury claim (like for a car crash) must be filed within 2 years of the date of the incident. Ohio Rev. Code § 2305.10(A). Claims for harm caused by chemicals or drugs must be filed within 2 years of the time you’re diagnosed by a doctor or you reasonably should have known about the injury, whichever comes first.
If you’re hurt by a faulty or defective product, you have 2 years from the time you’re injured or reasonable should have known that you were injured by the product. These types of cases also have a “statute of repose.” A statute of repose is a hard deadline for all cases, no matter when you discover that you’ve been hurt. For products liability cases in Ohio, that deadline is 10 years after you get the product. Ohio Rev. Code § 2305.10(C)(1). If you discover the injury 11 years later, it’s too late to file.
However, there are a couple of exceptions to the statue of repose. If you discover the injury more than 8 years after you get the product, you have a full 2 years from the time of discovery to file. Say you’re diagnosed with an injury 9 years after you get the product – you still have 2 years even though that pushes the deadline out to 11 years total. There is also an exception for warranties. If the warranty was good for more than 10 years and hadn’t expired when you got hurt, you can file within 2 years of the discovery of the injury even if that’s more than 10 years after you originally bought or leased the product. Ohio Rev. Code § 2305.10(C)(3). Finally, the 10-year statute of repose does not apply if the product manufacturer or supplier committed fraud and that fraud contributed to your injury. Ohio Rev. Code § 2305.10(C)(2).
The general statute of limitations for medical malpractice is 1 year after the time of the injury, but these types of cases have their own rules and exceptions.
If you’re injured on someone else’s property due to their negligent maintenance, you have 2 years to file a claim. You may be able to file a claim against the owner or the builder, architect, or engineer of the buildings or structures on the property.
If you’re filing against someone other than the owner, that premises liability claim has a 10-year statute of repose from the date the relevant construction or improvement was completed. This statute works the same way as it does for products – there are exceptions for fraud and the deadline is extended if you discover the injury more than 8 years but less than 10 years after the construction. Ohio Rev. Code § 2305.131(A).
Exceptions To The Statute
Each type of injury has its own exceptions, but there are also certain general exceptions. For example, if someone wants to file a claim against you, Ohio law doesn’t count any time you were out of state or in hiding against the statute of limitations. Ohio Rev. Code § 2305.15(A). If someone wants to file a claim against you while you’re in prison, the time that you spend behind bars also doesn’t count for the state of limitations. Ohio Rev. Code § 2305.15(B).
There are also general exceptions to protect people who couldn’t file a claim on their own. If you were “of unsound mind” or a minor at the time of the injury, you have 2 years from the time you turn 18 or from the end of your disability to file a claim. Ohio Rev. Code § 2305.16.
Personal Injury Claim Help
If you’ve been injured, the key is to look into your legal options as soon as possible so you don’t lose the right to file a claim. You may eventually decide that a lawsuit isn’t right for you, but you should contact an experienced local attorney as soon as possible after the injury to make sure that you keep your options open. We can help – contact us today for a free case evaluation and consultation to learn about your rights to compensation.
Prior to forming Dyer, Garofalo, Mann & Schultz, Doug worked as a bodily injury claims adjuster for a large insurance company. This unique experience has been a tremendous asset to Doug in his fight to achieve maximum cash settlements for his clients in minimum time. Since departing from the insurance company, Doug has dedicated his entire legal career to helping injured clients when they need it the most.