In 2005, the Ohio legislature passed a new law which limits – or caps – the amount that an injured person can recover in certain situations. The bad news is that the new law restricts what many severely injured people can recover.
The good news is that (1) the law does not restrict recovery for some of the most severe injuries (2) The law does not affect recovery for lawsuits where there is less than $250,000 in pain and suffering. Here is the way it works.
In a personal injury lawsuit, you have always been able to recover your economic damages – basically, medical bills and the pay you lost because you were in the accident. That hasn’t changed. You can still recover your medical bills and lost wages, regardless of how much they are, so long as they are caused the the accident.
What has changed is the amount you can recover for your noneconomic damages – that is, for the pain and suffering that the accident caused you. Before 2005, there was no limit on the amount you could recover for this.
Now, you cannot recover more than $250,000.00 for your pain and suffering – or, if your medical bills and lost wages are high enough, you may be able to recover $350,000 for non-economic damages.
There are exceptions. The law does not limit your recover for pain and suffering resulting:
• From a wrongful death claim.
• From the loss of a bodily organ system (not just an organ. There is a terrible case stating that the caps apply if you lose only one eye)
• If you have lost the ability to care for yourself and perform life sustaining activities
• For the amount you can recover for the loss of use of a limb.
• From a permanent and substantial physical deformity
If your claim results from the type of injury listed above, the law does not limit your recovery.
The good news is that most cases are not affected by the caps, because most injuries are not that serious. But what if your lawsuit is affected?
There are things a lawyer can try, and they depend on the case. I have recovered in settlement more than what I thought my client would be able to recover under the caps at trial.
I was able to do this because (1) I convinced the other side I had a good case for punitive damages, and (2) I had my client examined by an independent – not a treating – doctor. The doctor gave me a a report report saying my client had a substantial impairment to his body as a whole because of the accident. I argued that this was a deformity.
Of course, this does not address the most likely limitation on recovery – the available insurance. You can have a million dollars in damages – but if there is only $12,500 in insurance coverage and assets of the wrongdoer, that is all you are getting.
So there are things you can do. But you have to know the law, and come up with a sensible way that the court can apply it that will help you.
I have been a lawyer over 30 years. I am dedicated to doing everything I can to get my clients all the money they deserve. If you think you might have a lawsuit where you may be affected by the caps on recovery, speak with an experienced Cincinnati Injury Lawyer by calling 513-621-4775.
Because all situations are different, and because there may be other facts pertaining to your case that I don’t know about, you should not rely on this answer for legal advice. I am not your attorney, and no lawyer client relationship has been formed.