What is Considered Pain and Suffering in Ohio?

Those that were injured, such as with a car accident or other injury, typically suffer from significant pain and suffering that falls into distinct categories. On one hand, they may have physical injuries, physical pain and discomfort, and require medical treatment. These types of injuries are usually considered economic losses. In some cases, however, the victim sustains injuries after the incident that are not physical. There is often an emotional component or intangible loss suffered by the victim. When referring to “pain and suffering” in the context of an injury lawsuit – the law attempts to quantify or include these emotional or intangible non-economic damages. Pain and suffering or non-economic loss is intended to describe the emotional or intangible losses suffered by the victim and in some states, can be an important part of the victim’s total damages sustained from the accident or incident.

The Difference Between Economic and Non-Economic Loss

As with most personal injury topics, we preface any explanations with the disclaimer that State law is the most important consideration when determining whether pain and suffering is available after an injury. Some states do not provide for non-economic damages, for example, or have legal limits or damages caps on these types of damages. Ohio is no different, which is covered more in depth below. More broadly speaking, however, it is important to understand the basic distinction between the two when dealing with any injury lawsuits, especially when discussing pain and suffering after being injured in Ohio. There is a big difference between economic and non-economic loss. 

Economic Loss: This category of damages usually includes tangible losses or injuries. More often than not, it can be fairly easy to quantify the loss sustained by the accident victim. For example, medical expenses, lost wages and property damages are all typically included in total economic loss after an accident and by obtaining medical bills, pay stubs, and vehicle damage estimates, it can be fairly easily calculated. They are less subjective damages and more objectively measured by the expenses themselves.

Non-Economic Loss: Non-economic loss usually encompasses the type of damages sustained when people refer to “pain and suffering.” This category might encompass things like intangible loss, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment or loss of consortium. Usually, this category is more subjective. Not all States allow for these types of damages to be recovered after an injury or may allow them but impose a cap on non-economic losses. Given their subjective nature, non-economic loss can be the subject of significant litigation in order to prove amounts involved. When people refer to “pain and suffering” after being injured, they usually are referring to this category of damages and might include a number of different types of ongoing damage depending on the victim’s subjective state and the intricacies of what is allowable under State law. 

Pain and Suffering After an Injury in Ohio

In Ohio, part of the compensation that is available to injured victims can include non-economic damages or so-called “pain and suffering” after an accident. These means for those injured in Ohio, subjective losses outside of medical bills, lost wages or other economic loss may be available depending on the circumstances of the injury. Under Ohio law, non-economic damages are defined in R.C. Section 2315.18(A)(4) as “nonpecuniary harm that results from an injury or loss to person or property that is a subject of a tort action, including, but not limited to, pain and suffering, loss of society, consortium, companionship, care, assistance, attention, protection, advice, guidance, counsel, instruction, training, or education, disfigurement, mental anguish, and any other intangible loss.” 

This particular statute is often cited by courts when discussing non-economic losses and actually serves as a template for what happens if after a trial award, the non-economic loss is challenged as excessive. When those challenges happen, this statute is often used to discuss all the allowable types of economic losses under Ohio law and when a challenge to them being excessive will be successful. Under that reasoning, these are some of the things that Ohio considers to be included in non-economic losses that would not necessarily be excessive but there are limitations. For more about this procedure, see R.C. Section 2315.19.

While there are caps on non-economic loss in R.C. Section 2315.18(B)(2), there are no caps in car accident cases under certain circumstances involving serious injuries. R.C. Section 2315.18(B)(3) states that “there shall not be any limitation on the amount of compensatory damages that represents damages for noneconomic loss that is recoverable in a tort action to recover damages for injury or loss to person or property if the noneconomic losses of the plaintiff are for either of the following:

(a) Permanent and substantial physical deformity, loss of use of a limb, or loss of a bodily organ system;

(b) Permanent physical functional injury that permanently prevents the injured person from being able to independently care for self and perform life-sustaining activities.

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About the Authors: Sawan & Sawan is a multi-generational, family owned law firm practicing law in the areas of car accidents, truck accidents, and other personal injury. Our firm practices law in Ohio, Georgia, and Michigan.

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Dennis P. Sawan

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Christopher A. Sawan

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