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Know the Laws: Ohio

UPDATED September 15, 2016

You may have a right to seek justice from the abuser through the court system where you live. When people are injured by others, they are permitted to seek what the law refers to as "damages," in the form of money, for such things as medical bills, lost wages or employment, physical and emotional pain and suffering, and, in some cases, to punish the abuser.  Each state has its own laws on these subjects, but, for the most part, they are very similar when it comes to injuries from abuse.  To do this, you will most likely need the help of a lawyer.  Some lawyers will take a case like this for a "contingent fee," which means the lawyer doesn't get paid unless you win in court, and then s/he takes some percentage, usually a third, of whatever damages the judge orders.  Sometimes the judge will order the defendant to pay for your attorney's fees.

If your damages are below a certain amount, you may be able to file on your own in small claims court.  Small claims court is a less formal type of court, and many people are able to go to small claims court without the help of an attorney.  In Ohio, you may file in small claims court on your own for anything that is $3,000 or less; however, as of 9/28/16, the limit will increase to $6,000.*  Note: You cannot sue in Ohio small claims court for defamation (libel/slander), replevin (the return of personal property wrongly kept by another), malicious prosecution, or "abuse of process" (the improper use of the court system).  You also cannot seek punitive damages (to punish the abuser) in small claims court in Ohio.**

If you want to sue for more than $3,000 or for any of the other relief mentioned above, you will have to file in regular justice court and may need the help of a lawyer.  You may talk to the clerk of court in your county for help in filing a lawsuit in small claims court.  You can find more information about small claims courts in Ohio on the Ohio Legal Services website.  (Please note that WomensLaw.org has no connection with this website and cannot vouch for the information contained on that site.)

If you need help in finding a lawyer who can take your case for a contingent fee, contact:

National Crime Victim Bar Association
2000 M Street NW, Suite 480
Washington, D.C. 20036
Administrative: 202-467-8716
Lawyer Referral Line: 800-FYI-CALL
email: victimbar@ncvc.org
Website: www.victimbar.org
Offers information and lawyer referrals to crime victims seeking to sue offenders.

* Ohio Rev. Code § 1925.02(A)(1)
** Ohio Rev. Code § 1925.02(A)(2)(a) 

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