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Ohio’s damage caps in personal injury actions

by | Mar 22, 2022 | Personal Injury

Sustaining a catastrophic injury is something many people never recover from. The physical injuries may be painful or cause permanent damage. Victims may be forced to take time off work or even lose a job or career altogether. This is in addition to the untold amounts of mental and emotional distress many victims suffer.

There is also often a great deal of anger and anguish involved when the injury is caused by someone else’s negligence. Through a personal injury action, compensation may be available for both economic and non-economic damages. These damages are called compensatory damages.

Economic damages refer to things like medical bills or lost wages, while non-economic damages are things such as mental anguish or pain and suffering. The Ohio Tort Reform Act places no limit on the number of economic damages; however, the limit on non-economic damages is $250,000 or three times the number of economic damages the court awards. There are situations where more than this can be recovered. We will talk about this when you call me.

There is no limit on some types of non-economic damages

However, there is an important exception to the cap for non-economic damages. There is no limit to the amount of non-economic damages that can be awarded in cases involving a victim of a catastrophic injury who has:

  • A permanent and substantial physical deformity
  • A physical functional injury that permanently prevents them from being able to independently care for themselves or perform life-sustaining activities

A permanent and substantial physical deformity could be something like the loss of a leg or other body part, or involve a situation where a vital organ, such as a kidney, needed to be removed. Victims who are unable to perform daily tasks such as bathing, dressing, or eating, may fall under the physical functional injury exception.

In many personal injury actions, proving that a victim qualifies for one of these exceptions can be challenging. It often involves a detailed analysis of every aspect of the victim’s life, and defendants will make aggressive arguments that the damage cap should apply. Having the benefit of an experienced personal injury attorney in these situations is essential.