Litigation Lawyers in Port Hueneme
In Port Hueneme, California, the civil litigation system is primarily concerned with compensating the victims of wrongdoing, rather than punishing the wrongdoers, or casting moral blame upon them.
There is a major exception to this rule, however. In limited circumstances, courts in Port Hueneme, California will order a defendant to pay the plaintiff damages which are not directly tied to any harm suffered by the plaintiff. Rather, these damages, which are known as "punitive damages", are meant to punish the wrongdoer, and serve as a deterrent.
It's crucial to note that courts in Port Hueneme, California 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 Port Hueneme, California
Mostly personal injury cases in Port Hueneme, California involve injuries that the defendant did not intend to cause, but was still at fault in causing them (through negligence, for example). In Port Hueneme, California, this is not enough to justify the award of punitive damages.
Punitive damages in Port Hueneme, California are only awarded in the most extreme cases. Fraud, theft, assault, battery, and other intentional, immoral acts are grounds for punitive damages. Port Hueneme, California 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 crucial to know that punitive damages in Port Hueneme, California 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.
Punitive damages in Port Hueneme, California usually cannot exceed 10 times the amount of actual damages suffered by the plaintiff. However, this is just a guideline, and not a strict rule. Courts in California have found larger punitive damage awards to be perfectly valid, and smaller ones to be invalid. This will be highly dependent on the facts of each case.
How Can a Port Hueneme, California Attorney Help?
In Port Hueneme, California, there are a essentially unlimited number of situtations in which punitive damages can be awarded.
If you are involved in a case in Port Hueneme, California that you believe might entitle you to punitive damages, a lot of money could be at stake. So, if you want to pursue your legal remedies, you should see a Port Hueneme, California civil litigation attorney as soon as possible.