Legal Memorandum: Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice

Issue: Under Ohio law, when does a cause of action for medical malpractice accrue?

Area of Law: Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Medical malpractice; Causes of action; Limitations period
Jurisdiction: Ohio
Cited Cases: 690 N.E.2d 932; 589 N.E.2d 1284; 580 N.E.2d 822; 605 N.E.2d 1
Cited Statutes: Ohio Rev. Code § 2305.11
Date: 01/01/2000

A cause of action for medical malpractice accrues and the applicable limitations period of Ohio Rev. Code § 2305.11 begins to run either (1) when the patient discovers or, in the exercise of reasonable care and diligence should have discovered, the resulting injury, or (2) when the physician- patient relationship for the condition terminates, whichever occurs later.  Akers v. Alonzo, 65 Ohio St. 3d 422, 424-25, 605 N.E.2d 1, 3 (1992).

With respect to the first of these events, the Supreme Court has developed a three-pronged factual inquiry to determine when there is a “cognizable event” that may mark the time at which the cause of action accrues and the statutes of limitations begins to run.  See Flowers v. Walker, 63 Ohio St. 546, 548-49, 589 N.E.2d 1284, 1287 (1992).

The date of accrual and, thus, the date from which the limitations period runs is primarily a question of fact.  See Combs v. Children’s Med. Ctr., Inc., No. CA95-12-217 (12th Dist. July 29, 1996) (“The question of the existence of a cognizable event which starts the statute of limitations running is one of disputed fact to be decided by the trier of fact.”); Leftwich v. Martelino, 117 Ohio App. 3d 405, 411, 690 N.E.2d 932, 936 (4th Dist. 1997) (“determination of when a cause of action accrues and the statute of limitations begins to run involves an analysis of the facts on a case-by-case basis”); Shadler v. Pundy, 64 Ohio App. […]

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