Ohio Personal Injury Laws and Liability Rules

The Ohio personal injury statute of limitations, the state's cap on damages in personal injury lawsuits, and more.

By , J.D., University of San Francisco School of Law

After a slip and fall, a car accident, or any kind of injury caused by someone else's wrongdoing in Ohio, a number of state laws could play a big part in any injury-related insurance claim or lawsuit.

In this article, we'll dive into Ohio's statute of limitations deadline for filing a personal injury lawsuit, the state's cap on compensation (damages) in personal injury lawsuits, and more.

What's the Personal Injury Statute of Limitations In Ohio?

All states have limits on the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit in the civil court system after suffering some type of harm. 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 underlying accident. (Ohio Rev. Code Ann. section 2305.10.)

What If I Miss the Ohio Deadline for Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

If you fail to get your personal injury 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. That's a harsh result, and it underscores the importance of understanding and complying with these laws.

Can the Ohio Personal Injury Statute of Limitations Be Extended?

There are some situations that could extend the personal injury statute of limitations deadline in Ohio, or change the "clock" start time, including:

  • when the injured person was a minor (under the age of 18) or was deemed "of unsound mind" (according to Ohio law) at the time of the underlying accident (Ohio Revised Code section 2305.16), and
  • if the person who allegedly caused the plaintiff's injuries leaves Ohio or conceals themselves within the state before the lawsuit can be filed. (Ohio Revised Code section 2305.15).

Learn more about filing a personal injury lawsuit after the statute of limitations has run.

How Do I File a Personal Injury Lawsuit In Ohio?

Most Ohio personal injury lawsuits are filed in the state's "Courts of Common Pleas," which hear all kinds of civil cases in which the person filing the lawsuit is asking for more than $5,000 as a legal remedy.

Each of Ohio's 88 counties has a Court of Common Pleas. Chances are, you'll file your personal injury lawsuit in the court that serves the county where the person you're suing lives, or where your injury occurred. Find courts in Ohio and learn more about the Ohio court system.

You get your Ohio personal injury lawsuit started by:

  • filing a "complaint" with the Court of Common Pleas (General Division), a document that lays out your claims against the person or business you're suing (the defendant), and
  • serving the complaint and a summons on the defendant, to let them know they're being sued.

If your injuries are relatively minor and you're not planning on asking for more than $6,000 in total damages, you might want to consider the option of small claims court. Learn more about Ohio Small Claims Court.

What If I'm Partly At Fault for My Injury In Ohio?

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. (Learn more about determining fault in an injury case.)

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 the rare event that your injury lawsuit makes it all the way to trial.

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 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.

How Does Ohio's Modified Comparative Negligence Rule Work?

So, let's say you're rear-ended at a stoplight, but one of your three brake lights wasn't working at the time of the accident. During a civil trial, the jury decides that you were 25 percent at fault for the accident, while the other driver was 75 percent to blame. Your damages—injuries, vehicle damage, lost income—add up to $10,000. Under Ohio's modified comparative negligence rule, your compensation will be reduced to $7,500 (or the $10,000 total minus the $2,500 that represents your 25-percent 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 insurance adjuster raises the issue of Ohio's comparative negligence rule during settlement talks.

Does Ohio Have a Cap on Personal Injury Damages?

Damages caps put a limit on how much compensation a plaintiff can receive after their lawsuit was successful in court.

Ohio's Cap on Non-Economic Damages In Personal Injury Cases

Unlike most states, Ohio has placed limits on a big category of damages in most personal injury lawsuits. Under Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2315.18, non-economic damages (which includes compensation for non-financial losses like like pain and suffering) in most non-catastrophic personal injury cases are capped at the greater of:

  • $250,000 or
  • three times the amount of the plaintiff's economic damages.

There are also overall caps on non-economic damages of:

  • $350,000 per plaintiff, and
  • $500,000 per accident or occurrence.

There's no limit at all on non-economic damages (the cap doesn't apply) if the plaintiff's injuries include:

  • permanent and substantial physical deformity, loss of use of a limb, or loss of a bodily organ system, or
  • permanent physical functional injury preventing the injured person from being able to independently care for themselves.

Is Ohio's Personal Injury Damages Cap Constitutional?

For now, yes. In recent years, the Ohio Supreme Court has decided that the state's cap on non-economic damages is unconstitutional as applied to certain personal injury plaintiffs in individual cases, but the constitutionality of the cap itself has been upheld.

There's No Cap on Economic Damages In Ohio Personal Injury Cases

It's important to note that the cap we discussed above applies only to non-economic damages, which include the plaintiff's "pain and suffering" and other more subjective losses related to their injuries.

Economic damages in a personal injury case (like the cost of past and future medical treatment made necessary by the injury, the plaintiff's lost income, and inability to earn a living in the future) aren't subject to any kind of cap in Ohio. Learn more about damages and compensation in personal injury cases.

Does Ohio Cap Punitive Damages In Personal Injury Cases?

Yes. Under Ohio law, in the rare event that punitive damages are awarded in a personal injury lawsuit, they can't exceed twice the amount of the plaintiff's economic damages.

If the defendant is a small business or an individual, punitive damages can't exceed the lesser of:

  • two times the amount of the awarded economic and non-economic damages awarded to the plaintiff, or
  • ten per cent of the defendant's net worth when the injury occurred
  • up to a maximum of $350,000.

This law can be found at Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2315.21.

Ohio Dog Owners Face "Strict" Liability for Dog Bites/Attacks

In Ohio, a specific statute (Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 955.28) makes a dog owner "strictly liable" for any personal injury caused by their pet— meaning the owner's negligence doesn't need to be shown—unless the injured person was trespassing, or otherwise committing a non-misdemeanor crime at the time of the incident. Learn more about Ohio's dog bite laws.

What About 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 unique 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 usually 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. You can also learn more about:

Of course, some injury scenarios require more than just information. For a full understanding of your options after an injury, find the right personal injury lawyer for you and your case.

Make the Most of Your Claim
Get the compensation you deserve.
We've helped 285 clients find attorneys today.
There was a problem with the submission. Please refresh the page and try again
Full Name is required
Email is required
Please enter a valid Email
Phone Number is required
Please enter a valid Phone Number
Zip Code is required
Please add a valid Zip Code
Please enter a valid Case Description
Description is required

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you