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What should you do before you file a medical malpractice claim?

You may recall a recent post where we discussed the importance of time in medical malpractice cases. The statute of limitations in Ohio dictates that you have precisely one year to file a medical malpractice case, though there are rules on when that clock starts running. If you or a loved one has been harmed by or in the care of a medical provider, your instinct may be to file a medical malpractice lawsuit immediately. Before you do so, there are some steps you should take.

First, you should contact the doctors or medical providers who treated you and let them know what is going on. Many providers are willing to provide additional services to remedy the problem. Sometimes they offer these services free-of-charge. 

If the problem still is not resolved, you may consider filing a complaint with the State Medical Board of Ohio or another appropriate medical licensing board. The Medical Board has the authority to discipline doctors and certain other medical providers for violations. Depending on how egregious the violation is, the Medical Board may even revoke the provider's license to practice in Ohio. It is important to keep in mind, however, that the Medical Board typically cannot order the provider to compensate you for the harm you received.

Another step you should take before filing a medical malpractice lawsuit is to get an affidavit of merit. In Ohio, every medical malpractice claim must include an affidavit of merit signed by a qualified expert, usually another physician. This affidavit must state that the expert reviewed your medical records and determined that the injuries you suffered were the result of the medical provider's negligence. In other words, this affidavit demonstrates that your case has merit. If you do not provide an affidavit of merit, your lawsuit could be dismissed.

This post is only intended to provide a general overview of the steps you should take before bringing a medical malpractice claim. Because each case is different, it is highly recommended that you talk to an experienced attorney.

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