They say you can’t put a price on peace of mind. But you can put a price on physical and mental pain and suffering if you are injured in an accident. However, Ohio pain and suffering damages, also known as “non-economic” damages, can be more difficult to prove than economic damages such as medical bills and lost wages. Compensation limits also apply in pain and suffering awards, with the exception of a catastrophic injury.
Putting a price on your pain and suffering is as much legal art as it is medical science. Graham & Graham has been practicing the art of law for nearly 100 years. We serve up peace of mind daily for our Southeastern Ohio injury clients, beginning with a free initial consultation. Please call or contact our office to discuss your case.
How Personal Injury Damages Are Assessed
In legal terms, “damages” are the types of compensation available in a personal injury case. Damages fall into two main categories:
- Economic damages cover anything with a specific monetary amount. They include compensation awarded for medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage, such as a totaled vehicle in a car accident.
- Non-economic damages are awarded to an injury victim for the physical pain and mental distress that results from their accident. These damages cover not only past and immediate pain and suffering, but also pain and suffering that’s expected to occur in the future. Non-economic damages cover a wide range of intangible—but very real—harm, including physical pain and emotional and mental injuries. They may be awarded for things like anger, anxiety, disfigurement, fear, grief, inconvenience, insomnia, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Calculating economic damages is relatively straightforward: the victim adds up the total amount of their medical bills, time missed from work, property damage, and other quantifiable financial losses. While accounting for “future economic losses” can be tricky, and experts may be consulted to help calculate this portion of the claim, the losses in question are easily definable and measurable.
This is not necessarily the case for non-economic damages. Non-economic damages are generally subjective, and therefore more difficult to assign a specific dollar amount. For example, it’s not so easy to demonstrate the cost of post-accident depression that causes increased anxiety, insomnia, and overall lethargy and which often results in poor job performance or an inability to participate in the activities you once enjoyed. In addition to documenting psychiatric treatment and medications, the victim may have to rely on personal testimony about their pain and suffering, as well as testimony from medical professionals, friends and family, and other third parties.
Limits to Ohio Pain and Suffering Damages
Ohio caps the amount of non-economic damages a personal injury victim is able to recover. According to the Ohio Revised Code:
- Non-economic damages shall not exceed $250,000 or three times the amount of the plaintiff’s economic loss, whichever is greater, with a maximum of $350,000 per plaintiff and $500,000 per occurrence (an “occurrence” is an accident that formed the basis of the injury claim).
However, Ohio waives the damages cap if the person suffered a catastrophic injury. A catastrophic injury is defined as:
- Permanent and substantial physical deformity, loss of use of a limb, or loss of a bodily organ system; or
- Permanent physical functional injury that prevents the injured person from being able to independently care for self and perform life-sustaining activities.
Another Ohio law that limits personal injury damages (both economic and non-economic) is the state’s comparative negligence statute. Comparative negligence reduces an accident victim’s compensation in proportion to how much they contributed to the accident. If a victim is 50 percent or less at fault for an accident, they can still recover damages. But if they were more than 50 percent at fault, the victim is barred from recovering any damages.
Finally, all Ohio personal injury claims are subject to the state’s two-year statute of limitations. You have just two years from the date of injury to file a personal injury lawsuit. Missing this deadline means that you won’t be able to pursue injury compensation, of any kind, in the Ohio court system.
Graham & Graham: Personal Representation for Personal Injuries
Getting hurt complicates your life. Graham & Graham is here to make the recovery process as simple as possible. Our personal injury lawyers have many years of experience establishing non-economic damages, both in negotiations with insurance companies and in court. Insurance companies often use formulas that don’t accurately value a victim’s physical and emotional stress. We work with a network of experts who can help us substantiate your pain and suffering and recover maximum compensation for your non-economic damages.
Graham & Graham provides service tailored to the needs of the individual and their unique circumstances. Every case is different, but every client receives our respect and full attention. You’re not just a case to us. You’re a member of the community that forms the core of our firm.
To schedule your free initial consultation, call 1-800-621-8585 or send us a message.