Suing for Punitive Damages in Westminster

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Litigation Lawyers in Westminster

In Westminster, California, the civil litigation system is mainly 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 situations, courts in Westminster, California will order a defendant to pay the plaintiff damages which are not directly tied to any harm sustained 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 Westminster, California prefer not to grant punitive damages. This is because the civil justice system is designed mainly to compensate the victims of wrongdoing. Nonetheless, there are some cases where the defendant's conduct was so immoral and evil that civil courts have an interest in making them pay further 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 Westminster, California

Generally personal injury cases in Westminster, California do not involve punitive damages, because the defendant did not intend to cause harm, or act with some other form of malice. Rather, 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 Westminster, California.

Punitive Damages in Westminster, California are only awarded in cases where the actions of the plaintiff was intentional and highly immoral, or extremely reckless. In Westminster, 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.

You should be cognizant of the fact that there are some pretty severe limits on punitive damages in Westminster, California. 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 massive amounts of property.

In general, punitive damages in Westminster, California cannot be more than 10 times larger than the actual damages sustained by the plaintiff. Nonetheless, this is not an absolute rule, and appeals courts in California have upheld much larger awards, and found much smaller awards to be invalid. It's decided on a case-by-case basis.

How Can a Westminster, California Attorney Help?

Westminster, California's courts have wide discretion in awarding punitive damages. Therefore, it is impractical to comprehensively discuss all the situations in which punitive damages can arise.

If you are located in Westminster, California, and are immersed in a case that you think, based on the information conveyed above, that might have punitive damages as an option, you can't be sure what, if anything, you're entitled to from the defendant until you consult with a Westminster, California civil litigation attorney

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Life in Westminster

Westminster is located in Orange County in the state of California. It has a population of nearly 90,000 and was named after the Westminster Assembly of 1643. Originally, the city was named "Tri-City" because it was formed of three cities, Westminster, Midway City, and Barber City. Currently, Westminster California is an important hub for residence, employment, shopping, and arts/recreation.

The city of Westminster presents many opportunities for employment and business. Top employers in Westminster include Westminster School District, Southern California Edison, and Ito Farms. Many businesses are concentrated in Westminster's Bolsa area. The Westminster Mall is also a major source of revenue and retail for the city, as it contains over 180 different stores. For convenience, Westminster City Hall operates a separate branch called City Hall at the Mall.

Another site of interest in Westminster, California is the Westminster Rose Center. The Rose Center is a large, artistically designed building consisting of a banquet hall, a theater, and is often used for civic and cultural events. Westminster is also known for its beautiful outdoor parks, especially Liberty Park, which contains a well-frequented skate park.

Westminster lawyers provide many kinds of legal services for those needing advice or representation in court. Lawyers in Westminster, California often handle legal claims through the West Justice Center branch of the Superior Court of California, Orange County. The Justice Center is located in Westminster on 13th Street.

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