punitive damages ohio

If you have been injured or suffered a loss because of the negligent actions of another, you may be eligible for compensation.

The type of damages you are able to recover will depend on the unique circumstances of your situation.

Ohio punitive damages may be available based on the actions of the person or entity responsible for the injury.

What Are Punitive Damages?

The purpose of punitive damages is not to compensate you for your injury; it is to deter or “punish” the defendant for their reckless action in an effort to keep them from doing it again.

It helps set an example that the wrongful behavior will result in financial hardship. Punitive damages are also referred to as “exemplary damages.”

How Are Ohio Punitive Damages Awarded?

Punitive damages are not awarded if there are no compensatory damages. The first step is for your attorney to make a case for compensatory damages as a remedy for your injury or loss.

Compensatory damages can consist of both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages provide compensation for all expenses related to the injury. These may include:

  • Medical bills,
  • Physical therapy,
  • Property damage,
  • Cost of care,
  • Loss of wage, and
  • Loss of potential earnings.

Non-economic damages pertain to the mental and emotional components of the injury. Non-economic damages may include:

  • Pain and suffering,
  • Depression,
  • Anxiety,
  • Post traumatic stress, and
  • Loss of consortium.

Both of these forms of compensatory damages focus on compensating you, as opposed to punishing the defendant. 

Once the argument has been made for compensatory damages and they are awarded by a judge or jury, your attorney can argue for punitive damages. 

Who Is Entitled to Punitive Damages?

All personal injury cases require negligence on the part of the defendant for there to be a valid claim.

In some cases, the negligence was completely unintentional. Under those circumstances, it is unlikely that the defendant would be liable for punitive damages. 

Ohio punitive damages require a level of intent on the part of the defendant. According to Ohio punitive damages law under Ohio Revised Code 2315.21 (effective 4/15/2021), to receive punitive damages, the defendant must have:

  • Acted with malice or aggravated or egregious fraud; or
  • Knowingly authorized, participated in, or ratified the action or omission that caused the injury. 

Again, if a person made an honest mistake, they are still liable for compensatory damages but would not owe punitive damages. 

Cap on Ohio Punitive Damages

The Ohio legal system places caps on the amount of punitive damages that can be awarded. Punitive damages cannot equal more than twice the amount of compensatory damages awarded to the plaintiff. 

If the defendant is a small business employer or an individual, they are unlikely to have the same amount of assets as a big corporation.

For these defendants, the punitive damages cannot exceed 10% of their net worth up to $350,000 even if twice the amount of compensatory damages is more than that.

Attorney fees awarded for a punitive damage claim do not count against the capped amount. 

How to Receive Punitive Damages

There are some situations where you just know that the defendant deserves to have to pay for their behavior in a meaningful way. Any time that you are harmed due to the negligent action of another, you may be entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit. This is the starting point.

Navigating the Ohio legal system on your own is going to be difficult, and your chance of success will be greater with the help of an experienced personal injury attorney who can prepare your case. An experienced attorney will be able help you through the following steps:

  • Determine if you have a valid case for personal injury;
  • File the proper paperwork in a timely manner;
  • Conduct an investigation into the negligent action;
  • Gather evidence and testimony;
  • Determine estimated compensation;
  • Prepare for negotiations or trial;
  • Argue your case for compensatory damages; and
  • Argue your case for punitive damages.

The team at Bensinger Law strives to understand the individual case and goals of each client. The Bensinger Law team prides itself on creative and efficient solutions to serious legal problems. Contact us today for your free consultation.

Author Photo

Aaron L. Bensinger

Aaron L. Bensinger is an Ohio attorney serving personal injury and civil litigation clients. He has extensive trial experience and makes client service is his primary focus. As a partner at Balyeat, Leahy, Daley, Miller & Bensinger, LLC, Aaron happily works in Lima, OH, and serves the entire Northwest region of the state and beyond.

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