When Is a Personal Injury Considered Catastrophic in Ohio?

Jul 18, 2019

Any injury from a car crash, truck accident, slip and fall, or dog bite that requires medical treatment is serious and may merit filing a personal injury claim for compensation. Under the laws of Ohio, however, only certain types of injuries that result from someone else’s negligence or recklessness are personal injuries are considered catastrophic in Ohio.

What Classifies as a Catastrophic Injury

Section 2315.18 of the Ohio Revised Code lists catastrophic injuries as those that inflict:

  • A permanent and substantial physical deformity,
  • The loss of a limb,
  • The paralyzing of a limb,
  • The loss of an organ, or
  • A permanent loss of the ability to care for oneself and “perform life-sustaining activities.”

Examples of catastrophic injuries include significant facial scarring, having a leg amputated, losing an eye, and suffering a traumatic brain injury so severe that a caregiver must assist with eating, bathing and dressing.

Why It Matters When Your Personal Injury is Considered Catastrophic in Ohio

Another Ohio state statute, O.R.C. 2323.43, places a cap on noneconomic damage awards to the majority of personal injury victims. The limit does not apply to people who suffer catastrophic injuries.

Noneconomic damages are paid for losses that do not carry the price tags of medical bills and lost wages. Ohio allows personal injury victims to claim compensation for:

  • Pain and suffering,
  • Mental anguish,
  • Disfigurement, and
  • Loss of society, consortium (i.e., sex with a spouse or life partner), companionship, care, assistance, attention, protection, advice, guidance, counsel, instruction, training, and education.

In cases involving noncatastrophic injuries, noneconomic damage awards are capped at either $250,000 or three times the economic losses, whichever is greater. Having those limits waived by presenting evidence that an injury meets the legal definition for being catastrophic helps an accident victim hold the responsible party fully accountable and to secure funds needed to provide for ongoing health care and personal services.

One major consideration for claiming uncapped noneconomic damages for a catastrophic injury is that the applicable law mentions “a trier of fact.” This legal term means “a judge or jury.” Succeeding with a catastrophic injury claim, then, requires going to court and winning a civil trial. It is understandable that some people prefer to avoid a drawn out legal battle, but partnering with an experienced and dedicated personal injury attorney will make the process as bearable as possible.

Columbus-based personal injury attorneys with Brian G. Miller Co., L.P.A. are available to help with cases in Ohio and West Virginia. You can request a free consultation by calling (614) 221-4035 or connecting with us online.

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