Under current Ohio law, there are two types of damages that an injured person may recover for their personal injury: one is called "economic" damages and the other is called "non-economic damages."
Each has its own specific statutory definition, but in general "economic damages" are the bills the injured person has had to pay or be liable for as a result of the injury. For instance, in an auto accident, they include the medical bills and the repairs to the injured person's car. Further, if that person lost work as a result of the accident, then the specific amount of lost wages is also considered a type of "economic damages." Obviously, determining the exact amount of "economic damages" is (or should be if all of the parties are operating in good faith) relatively easy - a simple exercise in math.
"Non-economic" damages are often referred to as "pain and suffering" damages, but are more specifically defined to include:
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.
As you can probably guesss (or as some of you have actually experienced), determining the proper or reasonable amount of "non-economic" damages can be far more complicated than determining the proper or reasonable amount of "economic damages." In fact, most personal injury claims or trial disputes revolve around the proper measure of "non-economic damages." Each person's valuation of "pain and suffering" or "loss of companionship" can be quite different from another's. Suffice to say, if the pain is your own, you see its true value - while the pain you hear about for another is something that must be explained to you in such a way that you can truly appreciate what that other person is going through.
Stay tuned for more posts on how damages in Ohio are calculated - and how Ohio law actually places limits (or, as they are often called, "caps") on specifc types of damages.