How to Calculate Pain and Suffering Damages in an Ohio Personal Injury Claim
As personal injury attorneys in Cleveland, we use a few different methods to calculate fair and reasonable settlements pain and suffering damages. Before we get into those details, allow us to explain why our clients deserve cash awards for what state law calls “noneconomic losses” from injuries inflicted by traffic accidents, medical malpractice, slips & falls, or defective and dangerous products.
What Are Pain and Suffering Damages in Ohio?
Section 2316.18 of the Ohio revised Code lists pain and suffering as one item in a list of noneconomic losses that can be suffered by accident victims. Other noneconomic losses can include loss of consortium (i.e., sex with a spouse), loss of society (i.e., the ability to make and sustain friendships and family relationships), and loss of protection, advice, guidance, and counsel (i.e., acting as a parent or caregiver).
Even though an exact price tag cannot be attached to something like parenting, becoming unable to do that definitely represents a significant loss. The person or organization who is responsible for causing the loss should certainly be held accountable.
Physical pain, emotional suffering, and mental anguish can trigger the other types of noneconomic losses, but they are also compensable in their own rights. “Compensable” is the word personal injury lawyers use to mean “meriting a monetary award.”
Pain and suffering do not have precise legal definitions. Assessments from health care providers and mental health specialists provide convincing evidence. Testimony from friends, family members, and accident victims themselves also carry weight in establishing the experience of pain and suffering.
Calculating Pain and Suffering Damages in Ohio
Personal injury lawyers have three basic ways to calculate pain and suffering damages:
- Multiplying economic damages for medical expenses and lost wages by a factor of 3 to 5 that reflects the severity of pain and suffering;
- Setting a daily, or per diem, pain and suffering rate; or
- Seeking the maximum pain and suffering award allowable under Ohio law.
The first method works best when an accident victim incurs relatively low economic losses but experiences significant pain and suffering. For instance, medical bills totaling $11,000 could serve as the basis for a $55,000 pain and suffering damages award when the accident victim develops PTSD or a chronic pain syndrome.
The per diem method can work when it appears that settlement negotiations with the at-fault party’s insurance company intends to drag out settlement negotiations. Waiting for a personal injury case to resolve inflicts its own special kinds of emotional distress and mental stress. Charging the insurer, say, $100 for each day that a negotiated settlement is not reached compensates the accident victim and applies pressure on the insurer to act quickly and in good faith.
The final method of demanding a maximum pain and suffering award is used when a client’s injures are severe and disabling. Except in specific cases, Ohio law caps noneconomic damage awards at $250,000 or three time the total economic damages award. The cap is removed when an injury leaves the victim completely unable to care for themselves, causes the amputation of an arm or leg, or leaves behind major, visible scars.
Most personal injury victims can claim pain and suffering damages. Consulting with an experienced and caring plaintiff’s attorney in the Cleveland offices of Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman will help determine what a fair award would be. To set up an appointment, connect with us online or call (800) 678-3318. The first meeting will cost you nothing.