Litigation Lawyers in Tempe
In Tempe, Arizona, 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 Tempe, Arizona 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."
You should be aware that courts in Tempe, Arizona are not particularly fond of granting punitive damages, because they view it as a financial windfall that generally runs counter to civil litigation's primary purpose of compensating victims of wrongdoing for the harm they've suffered. However, if the conduct of the defendant was completely reprehensible and the harm caused was deliberate, a court might impose damages to punish the defendant, known as "punitive damages."
Conduct that can give rise to punitive damages in Tempe, Arizona
Personal injury litigation doesn't usually carry with it the possibility of punitive damages in Tempe, Arizona, 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 Tempe, Arizona.
In Tempe, Arizona, punitive damages are only awarded in extreme circumstances. Civil wrongs such as fraud, conversion (theft), battery, and other intentional, depraved acts are sufficient to award punitive damages. In deciding whether or not to award punitive damages, and how much money to award, courts in Tempe, Arizona will consider many different factors. Usually, they employ a sliding scale, weighing the nature of the conduct and the actual harm that the conduct caused. The more immoral the conduct, and/or the more harm caused, the more likely a court is to award punitive damages.
There are limits on punitive damages in Tempe, Arizona. The Supreme Court has held that punitive damage awards which are grossly disproportionate to the immorality of the conduct, and the harm that it caused, are an unconstitutional deprivation of property without due process of law.
A good rule of thumb for calculating the upper limit of punitive damages in Tempe, Arizona is that punitive damages can be no larger than compensatory damages times ten. This rule is not absolute, of course. Courts in Arizona have a good deal of discretion in awarding punitive damages, and will determine them based on the facts of each case. Because of this, punitive damage awards larger than 10 times compensatory damages are sometimes upheld, while much smaller awards have been overturned, because they were deemed excessive in a particular case.
How Can a Tempe, Arizona Attorney Help?
In Tempe, Arizona, there are a large number of cases in which punitive damages are appropriate, because the decision to grant punitive damages is largely up to the discretion of the jury.
If you have been injured in Tempe, Arizona 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 Tempe, Arizona.