Some people who suffer injuries because of defective products may be entitled to punitive damages that are meant to punish the manufacturer or supplier who is at fault. However, the burden is on the victim to prove he or she deserves this type of compensation, which is difficult to do.
This is one of the reasons victims could benefit from hiring an Ohio attorney for their case. The attorneys at O’Connor, Acciani & Levy are well-versed in Ohio law on product liability claims and punitive damages. We know what it takes to prove an injury victim is entitled to this form of compensation.
Your consultation with our birth injury attorneys is absolutely free and we do not charge for representing you unless you receive compensation.
What Are Punitive Damages?
According to Ohio Revised Code (ORC) 2315.21, punitive damages are only awarded when an injury victim provides clear and convincing evidence that the party that caused the injury did either of the following:
- Demonstrated malice or aggravated or egregious fraud
- Knowingly authorized, participated in, or ratified malicious or egregious actions
If you are filing a lawsuit against the manufacturer or supplier of the product that injured you, you will need to show the harm you suffered resulted from misconduct that manifested in flagrant disregard for the safety of people who might be harmed by the product (ORC 2307.80(A)).
Unlike other forms of compensation awarded in product liability claims, punitive damages are not meant to compensate the victim for a specific harm he or she suffered. Punitive damages are intended to punish the at-fault party for his or her actions and hopefully prevent others from engaging in similar conduct in the future.
Other forms of compensation are tied to specific damages the victim suffered. For example, economic damages are meant to compensate the victim for the economic damages he or she has received, such as medical bills incurred to treat injuries and lost wages. Injury victims could also obtain compensation for the physical pain and suffering they endured from the injury.
Punitive damages are not available in lawsuits against a city, political subdivision or state (ORC 2744.05) or in wrongful death actions. These damages are also not available if the at-fault party files a certified judgment, judgment entries or other evidence showing that punitive damages have already been awarded and collected by the victim (ORC 2744.21(D)(5)(a)).
If you believe you are entitled to punitive damages for your injury, contact our Ohio attorneys today to discuss your situation.
Proving You Are Entitled To Additional Damages
When your case goes to trial, the first phase will be about proving you are entitled to compensatory damages, such as lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. Under ORC 2315.21, our lawyers in Ohio are prohibited from presenting any evidence relating to whether you can recover punitive damages.
The first phase of the trial ends when the jury decides whether you are entitled to compensatory damages for your injuries. If the jury decides you are entitled to compensation, we can present evidence about punitive damages in the second phase of the trial.
If you are suing someone other than the manufacturer or supplier, such as the retailer that sold the product, we not only need to show evidence of malice or egregious fraud, but the jury also has to decide that you deserve punitive damages.
In most of these types of cases, juries will not decide to award punitive damages unless the at-fault party intended to harm the victim. This means the jury typically will not award punitive damages in cases of extreme negligence unless it was intentional.
Lawsuits Against Manufacturers And Suppliers
If you are suing the manufacturer or supplier for punitive damages, you will need to prove there was flagrant disregard for the safety of product users. However, simply proving a product is defective is not enough to show a flagrant disregard for safety, according to ORC 2307.80(B).
There are certain situations when manufacturers or suppliers of products cannot be held liable for punitive damages. For example, under ORC 2307.80(D)(1), manufacturers of products other than drugs or medical devices cannot be held liable if they complied with all applicable government safety and performance standards and the alleged injury was caused by a defect involving the product’s:
- Design or formulation
- Warnings or instructions
Manufacturers of drugs or devices cannot be held liable for punitive damages under either of the following conditions (ORC 2307.80(C):
- The product was manufactured and labeled in accordance with an approval or license issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- The drug is sold over the counter, complies with federal regulations and is generally recognized as safe and effective and is not misbranded under applicable federal regulations
However, the exceptions for drugs, medical devices and other products do not apply if the victim can show with a preponderance of evidence that the manufacturer withheld or misrepresented information to the FDA that was known to be material and relevant to the harm the claimant allegedly suffered (ORC 2307.80(D)(2).
Our firm’s attorneys in Ohio have the resources to launch a comprehensive investigation to collect evidence showing if you are entitled to punitive damages.
Are There Caps On Punitive Damages?
There are limits on the amount of punitive damages you can recover in Ohio product liability claims.
Under ORC 2315.21(D)(2)(b), when the at-fault party is an individual or small employer, the jury cannot award more than twice the amount of compensatory damages or 10 percent of the employer’s or individual’s net worth when the negligence occurred, whichever amount is lesser. However, the jury cannot award more than $350,000.
In lawsuits against any other types of defendants, such as large companies, victims cannot receive more than twice the amount of compensatory damages. This means if you received $50,000 in compensatory damages, you cannot receive more than $100,000 in punitive damages.
Attorneys’ fees are not factored into the cap on punitive damages. This means if you receive $350,000 in punitive damages, it would not include attorneys’ fees.
According to ORC 2307.80(B), the amount of punitive damages you receive will be determined by the jury, which will consider several factors, such as:
- The likelihood of serious harm being caused by the misconduct of the manufacturer or supplier
- The degree of awareness of the manufacturer or supplier of the risk of severe harm
- The duration of misconduct or concealment of the risk
- The profitability of the misconduct
- The manufacturer or supplier’s attitude about the discovery of misconduct
- The financial situation of the manufacturer or supplier
When your case is concluded, you will receive a verdict form listing the total amount of compensation you received. It will be broken up into the amount of compensatory damages and punitive damages.
The Ohio lawyers at O’Connor, Acciani & Levy have detailed knowledge of Ohio’s caps on punitive damages. This will help us as we try to obtain the maximum amount of compensation you deserve.
Contact An Ohio Punitive Damages Attorney Today
Juries do not often award punitive damages in product liability cases. This is because it is difficult to prove the negligence that occurred was intentional.
The Ohio lawyers at our law firm understand the difficulties of proving negligence was intentional and that the victim deserves punitive damages. We have detailed knowledge of Ohio statutes governing punitive damages and what it takes to make a convincing case for this type of compensation.
Our attorneys want victims of negligence to receive all the compensation they deserve. We also want people who were negligent to be punished to help prevent this type of conduct in the future so others are not victimized.
Your consultation with our punitive damages lawyers in Ohio is 100 percent free and you will not owe us for our services unless you receive compensation.