Ohio Personal Injury Laws & Statutory Rules
Ohio laws on personal injury lawsuits. Learn about the time limits to file, compensation available, fault and liability rules, and more.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at a few Ohio laws that may come into play after an injury -- whether you’re involved in an insurance settlement or a personal injury lawsuit.
Time Limits for Personal Injury Lawsuits in Ohio
All states have limits on the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit in the civil court system after you have suffered some type of harm. There are different deadlines depending on what type of case you want to file, but in general this kind of law is called a statute of limitations.
In Ohio, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases gives an injured person two years from the date of the injury to go to court and file a lawsuit against those responsible for the injury (or the underlying accident).
It’s very important to understand and abide by this law because, if you fail to get your lawsuit filed before the two-year window closes, the Ohio court system will likely refuse to hear your case at any time in the future, and your right to compensation will be lost.
Ohio Laws on Shared Fault
In some personal cases, the person or business you are trying to hold responsible for your injuries may make the argument that you're actually to blame (at least partially) for the incident that forms the basis of your claim.
If you do share some level of liability, it can end up affecting the total amount of compensation you can receive from other at-fault parties.
In shared fault injury cases, Ohio follows a “modified comparative negligence rule.” To put this rule in the simplest of terms, it means that the amount of compensation you're entitled to receive will be reduced by an amount that is equal to your percentage of fault for the accident. But if you’re found to bear more than 50 percent of the legal blame, you can’t collect anything at all from other at-fault parties.
So, let’s say you’re rear-ended at a stoplight, but one of your four brake lights wasn’t working at the time of the accident. During a civil trial, the jury decides that you were 15 percent at fault for the accident, while the other driver was 85 percent to blame. Your damages -- injuries, vehicle damage, etc. -- add up to $10,000. How does your share of the fault affect your compensation? Under Ohio's modified comparative negligence rule, your compensation will be reduced to $8,500 (or the $10,000 total minus the $1,500 that represents your share of fault for the accident.)
Ohio courts are obligated to follow this rule in an injury lawsuit that makes it to trial, and don't be surprised if the adjuster raises the issue of Ohio’s comparative negligence rule during settlement talks.
Caps on Injury Damages in Ohio
Like a number of states, Ohio has placed limits on the kinds of damages that an injured person can receive in a court case (via a jury award after a finding that the defendant is liable).
In Ohio, non-economic damages (like pain and suffering) in most non-catastrophic injury cases are capped at $250,000 or three times the amount of economic damages, whichever is greater (with an overall cap of $350,000). And punitive damages cannot exceed twice the amount of economic damages.
So far, these limits have been upheld as constitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court.
"Strict" Liability for Dog Bite/Attack Cases
In many states, dog owners are protected (to some degree) from injury liability the first time their dog injures someone if they had no reason to believe the dog was dangerous. This is often called a "one bite" rule. In Ohio however, a specific statute (Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 955.28) makes the owner "strictly liable", meaning regardless of the animal's past behavior, the dog owner is responsible for a personal injury caused by his/her dog. Specifically, the statute reads:
"The owner, keeper, or harborer
of a dog is liable in damages for any injury, death, or loss to person or
property that is caused by the dog" [unless the injured person was tresspassing, or otherwise commiting a non-misdemeanor crime at the time of the incident].
Injury Claims Against the Government in Ohio
If your injury occurred due to the negligence of an employee or agency of the Ohio government (at the state level), you’ll need to follow a different set of rules if you want to get compensation for your losses. Injury claims against the Ohio government or its employees must be filed in the state’s Court of Claims, and they must be filed within two years of the injury. See Injury Claims Against Government Entities
Get More Information on Ohio Personal Injury Laws
You can learn more about Ohio laws on personal injury cases, straight from the state legislature, at Ohio Revised Code Chapter 2307: Civil Actions.