What Damages Are Recoverable in My Injury Case?
Obtaining compensation is the primary purpose for a personal injury lawsuit, but there are a lot of misconceptions about what damages are recoverable. We created this page to help current and prospective clients understand what money damages may be recoverable in a personal injury claim in Ohio.
Keep in mind that a lawsuit has many elements. If you’re able to prove that negligence caused you harm, you are still required to produce evidence to prove your damages. Evidence supporting damages drives value in injury lawsuits.
Punitive damages are rarely awarded in Ohio. Punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages, are designed to financially punish the wrongdoer and deter others from similar conduct. Punitive damages are not a factor in most personal injury cases, because they require the plaintiff (the injured person) to prove that the defendant’s conduct was egregious or intentional, a very high burden to meet.
While injury lawsuits typically involve unjust behavior and someone acting negligently, recklessly or violently, the plaintiff’s damages will likely be restricted to compensatory damages under Ohio law.
Compensatory damages are intended to replace what the injured person lost as a result of his injuries. Most personal injury lawsuits center around compensatory damages.
Ohio law is designed to make the plaintiff “whole,” or put the victim in the position he or she would have been in had the harm not occurred. A lawsuit cannot bring a life back or make a person healthy again, but money damages help cover lost wages, medical bills, and future lost earnings or surgeries. Money can also help injured people lead more bearable lives by providing for better treatment. Compensatory damages help a plaintiff recover after an accident and avoid absorbing the financial burden of an injury that was no fault of their own.
There are two types of compensatory damages: economic and noneconomic.
Economic damages compensate the plaintiff for monetary losses suffered due to the injury or death. Economic damages include:
- Medical expenses: past, present and future expenses for medical treatment, rehabilitation or health-related care
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Cost of disability accommodations
- Funeral expenses in wrongful death claims
- Damaged or destroyed property
The above list is not exhaustive, as other quantifiable financial losses caused by an injury may be recoverable.
Noneconomic damages compensate the victim for nonmonetary losses. These damages can be difficult to value, but an experienced attorney can help injury victims and families quantify their noneconomic losses. Noneconomic losses are just as devastating as economic losses, if not more, however, quantifying noneconomic losses is much more difficult. Noneconomic damages include:
- Pain and suffering: This is compensation for physical pain the victim endured, as well as mental anguish and emotional distress.
- Loss of enjoyment of life should be compensated.
- Loss of consortium: Close family members of the victim may be able to recover damages for aspects of life they can no longer enjoy with their loved one.
Understanding Special Damages Vs. General Damages
People are often confused by the terms special damages and general damages. Special damages are economic losses, as they involve compensation for out-of-pocket costs directly attributed to an accident. General damages are noneconomic losses, or damages that have no evidence of a specific dollar figure.
Damage Awards Often Separate the Good From the Great
Many “injury lawyers” are capable of showing a defendant is responsible for their client’s injury or death. Few injury attorneys, however, are capable of driving value and proving high damages. It’s important that you work with an experienced trial lawyer with an in-depth understanding of injury damage valuation in Ohio. Rittgers & Rittgers has a strong record of success proven by verdicts and settlements.
To see some of the representative cases and damage awards/settlements won by Rittgers & Rittgers, visit our Sample Cases page.