Learn How The Caps Affect You
An injured person seeking justice in Ohio quickly discovers when making an injury claim or filing a lawsuit, there is insult added to their injuries; thanks to the Ohio legislature.
The Ohio Constitution mandates that a jury decides all issues of fact in a civil case (unless both sides waive a jury trial), including the amount of damages. In 2007, the Ohio Supreme Court reversed numerous decisions and declared that a legislative one-size-fits-all damage cap is constitutional. In other words, in certain cases, the Ohio Supreme Court allowed politicians to decide the value of an individual’s injuries; not a jury.
What are personal injury damage caps? Personal injury damage caps refer to statutory limitations decided by politicians on the amount of compensation that can be awarded to people in personal injury lawsuits. They set an upper limit on the monetary damages that can be awarded for certain categories of damages, such as pain and suffering, punitive damages, or what is referred to as non-economic damages. There are different caps for personal injury cases, medical cases and punitive damage caps. Here, we will just discuss Ohio’s personal injury caps.
The personal injury damage caps apply to non-medical cases, where there is not a permanent injury (as defined by statute), and to non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. If you suffered a permanent injury there is no cap and there is no cap on economic damages, which are most often lost wages and medical bills.
First, permanent injury is narrowly defined as:
“(a) Permanent and substantial physical deformity, loss of use of a limb, or loss of a bodily organ system;
(b) Permanent physical functional injury that permanently prevents the injured person from being able to independently care for self and perform life-sustaining activities.”
See, Ohio Rev. Code § 2315.18
Non-economic damages include compensation for pain, suffering, mental anguish, loss of companionship, and other intangible losses.
In Ohio, there is a statutory cap on non-economic damages, which currently stands at $250,000 or three times the economic damages, whichever is greater, but not to exceed $350,000 for any one injured person. If there is more than one injured person, the amount paid overall cannot exceed $500,000.
So how can this cap affect you? If you’re injured in a severe crash, and you have ongoing pain, but you can still work and take care of yourself, your case can be capped if you don’t meet the statutory definition of permanent injury, despite the fact that you will live with pain for the rest of your life.
There are ways to navigate the damage caps and maximize your recovery. If you have permanent pain, with the right lawyer and the right experts, you increase your chances of proving permanent injury so that you can avoid the damage cap.
If you think Ohio’s personal injury cap is bad, wait until you see the cap for a medical claim.