Litigation Lawyers in Norwalk
In Norwalk, Connecticut, the civil litigation system is mainly concerned with compensating the victims of wrongdoing, rather than punishing the wrongdoers, or casting moral blame upon them.
This basic principle is subject to an significant exception, however. There are cases where a judge in Norwalk, Connecticut will order a defendant to pay the plaintiff a sum of money which is not calculated based on actual harm the plaintiff has suffered. These are called "punitive damages" and serve the purpose of punishing and deterring wrongdoing.
In Norwalk, Connecticut, punitive damages are not awarded in many cases. This is because the civil litigation system highly disfavors giving money to plaintiffs in amounts disproportionate to the injuries they have suffered. Nonetheless, in some cases, the conduct of the defendant is so reprehensible, that simply punishing the defendant is a worthy goal, and this interest outweighs the preference against giving civil plaintiffs financial windfalls.
Conduct that can give rise to punitive damages in Norwalk, Connecticut
The vast majority of personal injury lawsuits in Norwalk, Connecticut involve instances in which the defendant did not intend to harm the plaintiff, but did so through carelessness. This is not enough to award punitive damages in Norwalk, Connecticut.
Punitive Damages in Norwalk, Connecticut are only awarded in cases where the actions of the plaintiff was intentional and highly immoral, or extremely reckless. In Norwalk, Connecticut, 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.
Nonetheless, in Norwalk, Connecticut, the law places limits on punitive damages. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled numerous times that punitive damages cannot be grossly disproportionate to the evil nature of the conduct, and the injuries that the defendant suffered. If they are disproportionate, punitive damages might be considered a deprivation of the defendant's right to due process of law.
A good rule of thumb for calculating the upper limit of punitive damages in Norwalk, Connecticut is that punitive damages can be no larger than compensatory damages times ten. This rule is not absolute, of course. Courts in Connecticut have a good deal of discretion in awarding punitive damages, and will decide them based on the facts of each case. Because of this, punitive damage awards larger than 10 times compensatory damages are occasionally upheld, while much smaller awards have been overturned, because they were deemed excessive in a certain case.
How Can a Norwalk, Connecticut Attorney Help?
In Norwalk, Connecticut, judges and juries have a good deal of leeway in deciding if they want to grant punitive damages, so there are a nearly-unlimited number of situations that can lead to a punitive damage award.
If you live in Norwalk, Connecticut and are immersed in a case that you believe carries the possibility of a punitive damage award, you may be entitled to a large amount of funds from the person or company that harmed you. To know for sure, you should speak with a civil litigation attorney in Norwalk, Connecticut.