Litigation Lawyers in Rolling Hills Estates
In Rolling Hills Estates, 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 Rolling Hills Estates, 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 Rolling Hills Estates, 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 Rolling Hills Estates, California
Mostly personal injury cases in Rolling Hills Estates, California involve injuries that the defendant did not intend to cause, but was still at fault in causing them (through negligence, for example). In Rolling Hills Estates, California, this is not enough to justify the award of punitive damages.
Punitive Damages in Rolling Hills Estates, California are only awarded in cases where the conduct of the plaintiff was intentional and highly immoral, or extremely reckless. In Rolling Hills Estates, California, 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.
It's crucial to know that punitive damages in Rolling Hills Estates, 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.
Generally, in Rolling Hills Estates, California, punitive damage awards that exceed the actual damages (those awarded to directly compensate the plaintiff) by a factor of 10. This is not an absolute rule, however, and is applied on a case-by-case basis. Courts in California have found much smaller awards to be invalid, and upheld much larger awards.
How Can a Rolling Hills Estates, California Attorney Help?
In Rolling Hills Estates, California, there are a virtually unlimited number of situtations in which punitive damages can be awarded.
If you are involved in a case in Rolling Hills Estates, 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 Rolling Hills Estates, California civil litigation attorney as soon as possible.