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Damage Caps for Medical Malpractice

by onJuly 10, 2018

When a doctor or other medical professional injures you, you can often receive financial compensation for your injuries (called “damages”). However, Ohio has passed a law that caps the amount of compensation you can receive. Read on to learn more about the limits on your personal injury recovery.

Damages Available

If you are injured by a medical mistake, then you might suffer various economic and non-economic losses. Economic losses are things that are easy to measure in dollars and cents, such as:

  • Medical expenses for treatment, rehabilitation, services, or assistive devices
  • Lost wages as a result of the injury
  • Property damage

Non-economic losses are harder to measure in monetary terms but nevertheless include things like:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish or emotional distress
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of society
  • Loss of guidance, care, training, or instruction

If you have a valid medical malpractice case, you can receive compensation for all these economic and non-economic losses. However, the state has put limits on the recovery of some.

No Limitation on Economic Damages

Ohio statute 2323.43 lays out the state’s damage caps. The first thing you will notice is that there is no limit for compensatory damages for economic losses. This means that you if you need $1 million in continuing medical care and for lost wages, then you can sue for that much. The state’s cap does not come into play.

Limitations on Non-Economic Losses

The state’s caps apply for non-economic losses—things like pain and suffering and emotional distress. Since these are hard to prove, they are somewhat subjective, and the state feared that jurors would give massive jury awards for intangible harms based on shaky evidence. Accordingly, the following limitations apply:

  • A plaintiff cannot receive in damages an amount for non-economic losses that is the greater of (i) $250,000 or (ii) the amount that is equal to three times the plaintiff’s economic loss. For example, if Kim’s economic losses total $70,000, the maximum amount of compensatory damages for non-economic loss is $250,000. If her economic losses were $100,000, then the maximum damages for non-economic loss would be $300,000.
  • The maximum amount of for each individual plaintiff is $350,000, or $500,000 per occurrence if there is more than one plaintiff.

A plaintiff can receive more if she suffers a catastrophic injury, such as:

  • Substantial and permanent physical deformity
  • Loss of a limb or bodily organ system
  • Permanent physical injury that prevents a plaintiff from taking care of themselves

In these situations, an individual plaintiff can receive up to $500,000 in damages for non-economic losses, or $1,000,000 for each occurrence.

Maximizing Your Recovery

Damage caps have proven to be somewhat controversial. After all, some accidents cause devastating emotional injuries, and historically courts have compensated them in an amount the jury determined was fair. Critics view damage caps in medical malpractice cases as attempts to shield doctors from having to shoulder the full costs of their mistakes.

However, there are things injured plaintiffs can do to maximize their damages:

  • Count all economic losses. Since the cap on non-economic damages is tied to the amount of economic loss you can show, you benefit by counting all of your economic losses.
  • Carefully document your intangible injuries. For example, you can record where you feel pain each day and its intensity.
  • Hire an experienced personal injury lawyer who is familiar with proving economic and non-economic losses.

Injured by a Medical Professional? We are Here to Help

At Lafferty, Gallagher & Scott, we have built our reputation taking on some of the hardest personal injury cases around. Our medical malpractice attorneys have secured numerous favorable awards for our injured clients, and we are fully prepared to use our skills for you. Please call 419-241-5500 to schedule your free consultation.

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