Litigation Lawyers in Malvern
In Malvern, Arkansas, 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, a Malvern, Arkansas 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."
It's critical to note that courts in Malvern, Arkansas prefer not to grant punitive damages. This is because the civil justice system is designed primarily to compensate the victims of wrongdoing. However, there are some cases where the defendant's conduct was so immoral and evil that civil courts have an interest in making them pay additional damages, going above and beyond what's needed to compensate the victim, in order to serve as a deterrent.
Conduct that can give rise to punitive damages in Malvern, Arkansas
Typically personal injury cases in Malvern, Arkansas do not involve punitive damages, because the defendant did not intend to cause harm, or act with some other form of malice. Alternatively, most of these cases involve situations where the defendant acted carelessly, but did not actually intend to cause harm. This is enough to award compensatory damages, but it is far from sufficient to award punitive damages in Malvern, Arkansas.
Punitive Damages in Malvern, Arkansas are only awarded in cases where the behavior of the plaintiff was intentional and highly immoral, or extremely reckless. In Malvern, Arkansas, torts such as fraud, gross negligence, and theft are sufficient to award punitive damages. Courts consider numerous factors when deciding whether or not punitive damages are warranted. Courts will look at the nature of the act, as well as the defendant's intent in performing the act. This will be weighed, on a sliding scale, against the actual harm that the defendant's conduct caused to the plaintiff.
You should be aware of the fact that there are some pretty severe limits on punitive damages in Malvern, Arkansas. The U.S. Supreme Court has found that there are constitutional limits on punitive damage awards. Punitive damages can't be too disproportionate to the actual damages that the plaintiff has suffered. Appeals courts have found that excessive punitive damage awards violate the defendant's right to due process, by depriving them of considerable amounts of property.
In general, punitive damages in Malvern, Arkansas cannot be more than 10 times larger than the actual damages suffered by the plaintiff. However, this is not an absolute rule, and appeals courts in Arkansas have upheld much larger awards, and found much smaller awards to be invalid. It's determined on a case-by-case basis.
How Can a Malvern, Arkansas Attorney Help?
Malvern, Arkansas's courts have wide discretion in awarding punitive damages. Accordingly, it is unrealistic to comprehensively discuss all the situations in which punitive damages can arise.
If you live in Malvern, Arkansas and are engaged in a case that you believe carries the possibility of a punitive damage award, you may be entitled to a large amount of money from the person or company that hurt you. To know for sure, you should speak with a civil litigation attorney in Malvern, Arkansas.