Under Ohio law, a plaintiff may recover damages for the non-economic loss of pain and suffering. Pain and suffering incorporates both the mental and physical distress suffered by a plaintiff after an accident. Examples include, but are not limited to: broken bones, aches, pains, soreness, depression, anxiety, and embarrassment. Pain and suffering also includes things such as the temporary or permanent loss in ability and the potential shorting of life. Whether a plaintiff receives a damage award for pain and suffering is a question left to the jury. The actual amount granted by the jury is wholly subjective. Pain and suffering is independent from doctor’s bills and lost wages. Therefore, it will be in the discretion of the jury to calculate an amount they think is necessary to compensate the plaintiff. When presenting evidence to the jury, a plaintiff may choose to testify to his or her pain and suffering and/or have an expert testify as to the extent of plaintiff’s pain and suffering. The jury is not allowed, however, to consider such things as the defendant’s wealth or enacting a punishment against the defendant when calculating the amount of compensatory damages for a noneconomic loss.
Furthermore, a plaintiff is limited on the amount of damages he or she can recover for noneconomic losses, including pain and suffering. Ohio Revised Code Section 2315.21 prohibits a damage award exceeding the greater of (1) $250,000 or (2) an amount equal to three times the economic loss. This section of Ohio law further limits the award to $350,000 per plaintiff or a maximum of $500,000 per occurrence that is that basis of the lawsuit. Yet, a plaintiff is not limited on the amount he or she can recover if the injury is seriously debilitating. For instance, damages are not limited if plaintiff’s injuries create a permanent and substantial physical deformity, such as a loss of use of an arm, or plaintiff suffers a permanent injury which prevents the plaintiff from proper functioning and limits the plaintiff’s ability to independently take care of self or sustain life.