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Ohio Personal Injury Laws

Personal injury law covers more than just physical harm or wrongful death as a result of negligence. Economic, property and other personal losses that result from a breach of contract, fraud or property damages qualify as personal injuries. You have a right as an Ohio resident to seek compensation for your personal injury through litigation.

If you've been injured in Cincinnati, Columbus or Cleveland, use LawInfo's Ohio personal injury articles to learn about the laws surrounding your case and to find a qualified attorney.

Proving Negligence in Ohio

A key element to winning a personal injury case is proving that the other person's (the defendant's) negligence is at fault for your injury. It only sounds simple, though. Proving negligence in an Ohio court is a lot more complex than simple “he said/she said.”

One method Ohio courts use to determine the defendant's negligence is to use evidence and reasoning to answer four questions—the four elements of negligence:

  1. Did the defendant owe the plaintiff a duty of care, including safeguarding them from foreseeable harm?
  2. Did the defendant's actions breach their duty?
  3. Did the defendant's actions directly cause harm to the plaintiff? (And was the resulting harm foreseen or foreseeable in the defendant's duty of care?)
  4. Can the plaintiff recover actual damages from their injuries?

Another method courts use is to compare the defendant's actions surrounding the injuring incident with those of a theoretical “reasonably prudent” person in a similar situation. A reasonably prudent person's actions are responsible and legal under Ohio and federal laws.

Ohio Compensatory and Punitive Damages

When you pursue a personal injury lawsuit, you are suing primarily for compensatory damages. These types of damages represent monetary compensation for any economic and noneconomic losses you had and may continue to suffer as a result of your injuries.

Economic losses include lost wages/salaries, diminished property value and the costs of medical treatment or other rehabilitative services. Noneconomic losses include intangible losses like pain and suffering or loss of companionship. Attorney fees for the personal injury lawsuit cannot be included in compensatory damages claims.

There is no limit in Ohio to how much you can claim or receive in compensatory damages for economic losses. Compensatory damages for most noneconomic losses are limited to either:

  • $250,000, or
  • Three times the amount of damages for economic losses but not to exceed
    • $350,000 for each plaintiff if there are multiple plaintiffs in a single lawsuit, or
    • $500,000 for each lawsuit that is based on recurring negligence (i.e. for multiple lawsuits based on a single cause of action).

Another type of compensation you could sue for are punitive damages. Punitive damages don't actually compensate economic or noneconomic losses—rather, they are levied against defendants as a punishment to dissuade future negligence. Not every personal injury lawsuit qualifies for punitive damages awards, though. Punitive damages awards are limited to no more than two times the amount of compensatory damages awarded.

Ohio Statute of Limitations

A statute of limitations limits how much time after an injury occurs that a plaintiff has to pursue legal action against a defendant. Once the statute “runs out,” a lawsuit cannot be pursued. Ohio's civil statute of limitations includes:

  • Two years for personal injury.
  • Two years for wrongful death in general.
  • One year for medical malpractice.
  • Two years for injury (or damage) to property.
  • Six years for oral contracts.
  • Eight years for written contracts.
  • Four years for fraud in general. Five years for identity fraud.

Speak with a Personal Injury Attorney

Injuries cost money, including time away from work, medical bills and other complications. You should have an attorney help you with your claim. Not sure if you have a good injury case? Speak to a local personal injury attorney about the merits of your case. This one step can help you protect your rights and take the proper next steps.

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