Understanding the complexities of a personal injury case in Ohio is challenging, especially when you’ve been injured and are dealing with physical and emotional pain. One aspect that adds another layer of complexity to personal injury lawsuits in Cincinnati is punitive damages, which can be claimed in addition to compensatory damages.
The Purpose of Punitive Damages
In personal injury claims, punitive damages serve a different purpose compared to compensatory damages. While compensatory damages aim to reimburse the injured party for his or her actual losses, such as medical bills and lost wages, punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant and deter similar negligent behavior in the future.
Essentially, punitive damages are more about sending a message to the defendant and society at large, rather than simply covering the victim’s costs.
Who Is Eligible for Punitive Damages in Ohio?
In Ohio, you can only claim punitive damages if you meet specific criteria. The defendant’s actions must display malice or aggravated or egregious fraud, or it should be proven that the defendant knowingly authorized, participated in, or ratified actions that were malicious or egregious. Essentially, there must be an element of extreme negligence or intentional wrongdoing for you to be eligible for punitive damages.
How Do You Prove Punitive Damages in Court?
A personal injury case in Ohio generally comprises two stages:
- In the first stage, the focus is on proving your entitlement to compensatory damages; evidence regarding punitive damages is not permitted at this point. Only after the jury has determined that you are entitled to compensatory damages does the trial move to the second stage.
- In the second stage, you have the opportunity to prove your claim for punitive damages. You must present clear and convincing evidence that not only were the defendant’s actions malicious or egregiously fraudulent, but also that the jury should award punitive damages based on these actions.
Is There a Limit on the Amount of Punitive Damages You Can Claim?
Ohio does impose limits on the amount of punitive damages that can be awarded. Unless a limited exception applies, such as in the case of catastrophic injury, the punitive damages cannot exceed twice the amount of the awarded compensatory damages.
For example, if the compensatory damages amount to $20,000, the maximum you could receive in punitive damages would be $40,000, totaling $60,000. Additionally, Ohio law caps punitive damages at $350,000, regardless of how much you receive in compensatory damages.
Speak to an Ohio Personal Injury Attorney
If you believe you may be eligible for punitive damages in a personal injury case, it is imperative to consult with an Ohio personal injury attorney. A lawyer can assess your situation and determine whether you qualify for this type of compensation. Then, he or she can build a compelling case that proves your right to full financial recovery.
Aside from proving damages, a personal injury lawyer can gather evidence, enlist the help of expert witnesses, and craft a compelling case in your favor. Your attorney can guide you through the complexities of Ohio personal injury law and help you understand your rights and options.
If you plan on filing a personal injury lawsuit, don’t navigate the process alone. Contact an Ohio personal injury attorney to discuss your path forward.