Ohio Nursing Home Abuse Laws

Ohio Caps Noneconomic and Punitive Damages

In response to tort reform lobbying efforts of the insurance industry and big business, some states, including Ohio, have created arbitrary limitations on the amount of damages that can be awarded for personal injury cases.

The state of Ohio enacted SB 80 in 2005. This bill created a law that placed caps on both non-economic damages and punitive damages that can be recovered in a personal injury case. Noneconomic damages are damages for pain, suffering, loss of quality of life and emotional distress. Under the law, a plaintiff cannot receive more than either $250,000 or three times economic damages, whichever is greater. There is an additional cap of $350,000 per plaintiff and $500,000 per occurrence meaning that three times economic damages cannot exceed this amount.

However, this amount increases to $500,000 per person and $1,000,000 per occurrence if the plaintiff suffers a catastrophic injury. Ohio also caps punitive damages at two times compensatory damages. In the case where the defendant is an individual or small employer, punitive damages are also limited to 10% of net worth, up to a maximum of $350,000.

The state of Ohio does not cap economic damages in personal injury cases. Economic damages are monetary losses a victim suffers as a result of an injury such as medical bills, lost wages, and quantifiable future losses.

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Recoverable Losses for Wrongful Death Actions

Under Ohio law, a claimant may recover compensatory damages in an action for wrongful death. See § 2125.02. The recoverable losses include damages for reasonable funeral and burial expenses; loss of society; loss of services; loss of companionship, loss of consortium, loss of care, loss of assistance, loss of attention, loss of protection, loss of advice, loss of guidance, loss of counsel, loss of instruction, loss of training, loss of education; loss of prospective inheritance; loss of support from reasonable expected earning capacity; and mental anguish. There is no ceiling on recovery in wrongful death actions. § 2125.02. The state of Ohio does not allow punitive damages in wrongful death actions See Robeck v. Ohio, 374 N.E.2d 411 (Ohio 1978).

Statute of Limitations on Personal Injury and Malpractice Claims

In Ohio, the statute of limitations on personal injury is generally two years. § 2305.10. However, the statute of limitations on medical malpractice actions is one year. The statue will begin to run on one of three dates under the “discovery rule”:

  1. The date that the malpractice occurred.
  2. The date you discover the injury from the malpractice.
  3. The date the doctor/patient relationship is terminated with the physician who committed the medical malpractice, and who is the subject of the lawsuit.

The Ohio statute of limitations for actions for wrongful death is 2 years. § 2125.02

Attorney’s Fees Must not be Excessive

Most nursing home injury and wrongful death cases are taken on a contingency fee basis. This means that instead of billing an hourly rate, the attorney will be paid a percentage of any award or settlement obtained for the client. The Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct provide that a lawyer shall not make an agreement for, charge, or collect a clearly excessive fee.

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Ohio Nursing Home Resident’s Rights

In the state of Ohio, nursing homes are required to follow federal and state laws and defined by Ohio administrative codes.

The rights of the residents of a home include, but are not limited to:

  • The right to a safe and clean living environment.
  • The right to be free from physical, verbal, mental, and emotional abuse and to be treated at all times with courtesy, respect, and full recognition of dignity and individuality.
  • The right to adequate and appropriate medical treatment and nursing care without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, age, or source of payment for care.
  • The right to have all reasonable requests responded to promptly.
  • The right to have clean and sanitary clothes and bed sheets.
  • The right to know the name and specialty of treating physicians and staff.
  • The right to choose a physician.
  • The right to participate in decisions that affect the resident’s life.
  • The right to confidential treatment of personal and medical records.
  • The right to privacy during medical examination or treatment.
  • The right to refuse to serve as a medical research subject.
  • The right to be free from physical or chemical restraints or prolonged isolation.
  • The right to the pharmacist of the resident’s choice.
  • The right to exercise all civil rights, unless the resident has been adjudicated incompetent pursuant.
  • The right of access to opportunities that enable the resident to achieve the resident’s fullest potential.
  • The right to observe religious obligations and participate in religious activities.
  • The right upon reasonable request to private and unrestricted communications with the resident’s family, friends, social worker, and any other persons of the resident’s choosing.
  • The right to privacy.
  • The right to keep and use personal clothing and a reasonable amount of possessions.
  • The right to manage their own finances, or request the facility manage their finances, and be free from financial exploitation.
  • The right to receive reasonable notice before the resident’s room or roommate is changed.
  • The right not to be transferred or discharged from the home barring limited exceptions.
  • The right to voice grievances.

You should consult with the long term care ombudsman or an attorney if you have believe that a nursing home has violated a resident’s rights.

Regulatory Oversight and Enforcement

In Ohio, The Bureau of Regulatory Compliance (BRC) enforces state and federal health care and environmental standards in nursing homes, residential care facilities, and county homes. In addition, The Ohio Bureau of Long Term Care Quality is responsible for ensuring the quality of care and quality of life of the residents of nursing homes assisted living facilities. To do so , the BRC conducts periodic on-site inspections to monitor compliance with state and federal regulations in nursing homes. In addition they will receive and investigate written complaints.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only.  It is not legal advice and should not be used as legal advice.  The legal statutes, laws and procedures contained in this article may not be current and may have been revised since the time of publication or contain errors. An attorney can provide legal guidance only after reviewing the details of your individual case.

Image via Flickr via Erik Drost 

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