Wrongful Death: Statute of Limitations in Ohio

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I can’t tell you how many times, in my 33 years of working as a personal injury lawyer, I’ve had to tell someone, who had a legitimate case, I couldn’t help them because too much time had passed. I have found that this happens even more frequently for wrongful death cases.

I always ask them, “Why didn’t you call me sooner?” They often say, especially when they have lost a loved one, that it was because they were trying to get the estate in order, or they were still processing what happened and were not quite ready to make the call. Unfortunately, you can’t wait.

The statute of limitations for Wrongful Death in Ohio is two years from the date of the victim’s death.

The statute of limitations is a law, determined by the state, that defines the specific amount of time someone has to bring a claim. If the statute of limitations has passed, you are barred from pursuing your case, and there is nothing I can do.

Like most rules, there are some exceptions to the two-year statute of limitations for Wrongful Death in Ohio. One exception is called the discovery rule. The discovery rule allows family members to pursue a wrongful death claim outside of the two-year statute if the family did not know the victim’s death was caused by the negligence of another until after the two-year time limit was up.

In Ohio, when wrongful death is the result of medical malpractice, the two-year statute of limitations still applies, even though medical malpractice claims usually have a one-year time limit.

Wrongful death cases are complex cases, and they get complicated very quickly. With these rules and exceptions, It is so important that you call me right away. Remember, you don’t have to do this alone, I can help you navigate the legal process.

If your loved one was a victim of someone else’s negligence. You can’t wait. Call me immediately at 1 (877) 944-4373.

As your Ohio wrongful death lawyer, I’ll be there for you, and I’ll Make Them Pay!

Author: Tim Misny | For 33 years, personal injury lawyer Tim Misny has represented the injured victim in birth injurymedical malpractice, and catastrophic injury/wrongful death cases, serving “Cleveland, Akron/Canton, Columbus & Cincinnati, Ohio.” You can reach Tim by email at tmisny@misnylaw.com or call at 1 (877) 944-4373



Malpractice that results in death gives rise to two distinct claims: a malpractice claim for personal loss and suffering prior to death, enforceable by the decedent’s personal representative, and a wrongful death claim for pecuniary loss to the decedent’s spouse and next of kin. Koler v. St. Joseph Hospital, 69 Ohio St. 2d 477, 432 N.E.2d 821 (1982). A wrongful death action may be brought even if the malpractice claim is time-barred Id.; Brosse v. Cumming, 20 Ohio App. 3d 260, 485 N.E.2d 803 (1984) (malpractice claim already barred at time of death). By statute, an action for wrongful death must be brought within two years after the decedent’s death, Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2125.02(D) (Westlaw 2010), but the Ohio Supreme Court has adopted a discovery rule that can extend this time. Collins v. Sotka, 81 Ohio St. 3d 506, 692 N.E.2d 581 (1998). – See more at: http://www.mcandl.com/ohio.html#sthash.UU4TEt2O.dpuf


“Ordinarily, a cause of action accrues and the statute of limitations begins to run at the time the wrongful act was committed. However, under the discovery rule, which is an exception to the general rule, a cause of action accrues when the plaintiff discovers, or in the exercise of reasonable care should have discovered, that he or she was injured by the wrongful conduct of the defendant. In essence, the running of the limitations period is delayed until triggered by a “cognizable event” that alerts the plaintiff that he or she was injured by the defendant.”


As noted, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death in Ohio is generally two years. There can be exceptions, though. For example, the discovery rule may allow plaintiffs to pursue a case beyond the two-year period. This may be the case if a family does not discover that another’s negligent acts caused the deceased’s death until after the two-year period. This may be an issue in some medical malpractice cases.

Despite what may appear to be a lengthy two-year time period in which to pursue compensation, it is always best to file as soon as possible. Getting started right away allows plaintiffs to collect evidence shortly after the accident and/or death and protects their right to pursue legal action.

It’s also important to keep in mind that it’s two years from the date of death. So even though an accident might have occurred on May 1, if the victim didn’t pass until July 15, the statute of limitations would start July 15.

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Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations in Ohio
This content covers statute of limitations for wrongful death cases in the state of Ohio. The information is provided by Tim Misny, a highly experienced Ohio Wrongful Death Attorney.