When you suffer a personal injury that is someone else’s fault, you can file a claim for compensation in an Ohio court. However, this right is not without its limitations. Ohio law imposes a statute of limitations in personal injury claims. That is, you must file your claim within the time limit given in Ohio statutes or lose your rights forever.
If you file within the personal injury time limit under Ohio law, you may be able to get compensation for current and future medical expenses, lost wages, interference with normal living, loss of earning capacity, and pain and suffering. You may even be able to get punitive damages in egregious cases. But if you miss the statute of limitations by even one day, you will be forced to pay all your expenses yourself, and the person at fault for your injuries will pay nothing.
How long do I have to file a personal injury claim in Ohio?
Under Ohio Revised Code §2305.10 (A), you must bring your personal injury claim within two years after “the cause of action accrues,” with some exceptions. Normally this is two years from the date you were injured. Of course, for an Ohio personal injury attorney to file a claim within two years of the date you were injured, you cannot walk into their law office the day before the statute of limitations in your case expires. As soon as you can, after you realize you’ve been injured, you should call an experienced personal injury lawyer.
A Note on Exposure to Hazardous Materials
If you were exposed to hazardous or toxic chemicals, drugs, or medical devices, under Ohio Revised Code §2305.10 (B)(1), your cause of action accrues when you are informed by your doctor or other “competent medical authority” that you were injured due to the exposure or the date when you should have known using “reasonable diligence,” whichever occurs first. Sections §2305.10(B)(2) through §2305.10 (B)(5) enumerate events that involve specific hazardous materials or circumstances with the same statute of limitations.
Let’s say, for example, that you worked at a place where you were exposed to asbestos but were never told. The first time you find out about it is 10 years later when you go to the doctor with a breathing problem, and your doctor informs you that you are seriously ill due to exposure to asbestos. Your two-year window to file may begin at that time rather than the date you were exposed to asbestos 10 years before.
Exceptions for Minors and Mentally Incompetent
Ohio law provides an exception to the usual statute of limitations for minors and those of unsound mind. If a minor or someone of unsound mind suffers personal injury, under Ohio Revised Code § 2305.16, they can bring an action enumerated in the statute of limitations “after the disability is removed.” So, if you suffer a personal injury at age 15, you still have two years after reaching the age of majority (age 18 in Ohio) to file a personal injury claim for compensation. You do not have to file your claim within two years while you are still 17.
Absence of Party at Fault
The law will not penalize you if you are unable to sue a defendant due to their actions. If the party who is liable is absent, concealed, or imprisoned, the time to file a personal injury claim does not begin to run until the defendant is found or released from prison under Ohio Revised Code §2305.15. If a defendant runs a light and hits you as you are walking in a crosswalk, and then skips town, that is not your fault. Until the defendant can be located, your statute of limitations stops running. The defendant should not benefit by trying to evade responsibility for their actions.
See also: I Had an Unnecessary Surgery. Can I Sue?
Seek Help Immediately for Your Personal Injury Claim
There are a lot of complexities and exceptions to the law. You do not want to take the chance of losing your rights to compensation. That is why after you are injured, you should not wait.
As soon as you are able, you should consult with a good Ohio personal injury attorney who can map a strategy for your case. Your medical expenses could be ongoing. You need not wait until all your medical expenses are finished to file a claim, because in some cases they could continue for years or for your lifetime.
Your attorney will want to speak with your medical team and possibly other medical experts to determine if you might suffer complications as the years run on. You may also be eligible to be compensated for loss of earning capacity even if you were not working at the time of the accident.
Filing a claim for personal injury requires careful analysis and in-depth knowledge of the law and should not be done in a hurry. To give your case every benefit, you will want to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney at Plevin & Gallucci early. Two years goes by very quickly. If you have been injured by someone else, contact Plevin & Gallucci today for a free case evaluation.