Litigation Lawyers in Alabaster
In Alabaster, Alabama, the civil litigation system is primarily concerned with compensating the victims of wrongdoing, rather than punishing the wrongdoers, or casting moral blame upon them.
However, this general principle has a major exception. In rare cases, an Alabaster, Alabama judge or jury can award damages to the plaintiff that are not calculated by the actual losses suffered. Instead, they serve the purpose of punishing the defendant, and deterring others from wrongdoing. These are called "punitive damages."
Courts in Alabaster, Alabama do not grant punitive damages in most cases. The civil litigation system is geared against granting financial windfalls to civil plaintiffs. But, there are rare cases, where the defendant has done something to the plaintiff that is so morally reprehensible, that society's interest in punishing the defendant and deterring similar misconduct outweighs the civil justice system's preference against punitive damages.
Conduct that can give rise to punitive damages in Alabaster, Alabama
Personal injury litigation doesn't usually carry with it the possibility of punitive damages in Alabaster, Alabama, because mostly personal injury cases stem from harm that was caused accidentally, not deliberately. Accidental harm is not enough to warrant an award of punitive damages in Alabaster, Alabama.
Punitive damages in Alabaster, Alabama are only awarded in the most extreme cases. Fraud, theft, assault, battery, and other intentional, immoral acts are grounds for punitive damages. Alabaster, Alabama courts will consider several factors in considering whether or not to award punitive damages. For example, the court might employ a sliding scale that weighs the immorality of the defendant's conduct against the actual harm that it caused to the plaintiff, and calculate damages accordingly.
It's necessary to know that punitive damages in Alabaster, Alabama are subject to limits. The Supreme Court of the United States has held, more than once, that punitive damages can't be grossly disproportionate to the actual harm suffered by the plaintiff. Grossly excessive punitive damage awards are unconstitutional, the Supreme Court has held, because they amount to the government taking property from the defendant without due process of law.
In Alabaster, Alabama, punitive damage awards are typically (but not always) capped at 10 times the amount awarded in compensatory damages. Remember, however, that this is just a general rule of thumb, and is not completely rigid. In Alabama, appeals courts have a good deal of discretion in deciding if a punitive damage award is valid or invalid. Much larger awards have been upheld, and smaller awards have been overturned. The validity of a particular punitive damage award will depend heavily on the facts of each case.
How Can a Alabaster, Alabama Attorney Help?
In Alabaster, Alabama, there are an essentially unlimited number of situtations in which punitive damages can be awarded.
If you have been injured in Alabaster, Alabama and you think punitive damages might be justified, a large amount of money might be at stake. For that reason, you should not hesitate to consult a civil litigation attorney in Alabaster, Alabama.