Litigation Lawyers in West Hartford
In West Hartford, Connecticut, the civil litigation system is primarily concerned with compensating the victims of wrongdoing, rather than punishing the wrongdoers, or casting moral blame upon them.
This general principle is subject to an important exception, however. There are cases where a judge in West Hartford, 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 West Hartford, Connecticut, punitive damages are not awarded in many cases. This is because the civil litigation system strongly disfavors giving money to plaintiffs in amounts disproportionate to the injuries they have suffered. However, 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 West Hartford, Connecticut
The vast majority of personal injury lawsuits in West Hartford, 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 West Hartford, Connecticut.
Punitive damages in West Hartford, Connecticut are not granted in many cases. They are only awarded when the defendant's actions was so deplorable and deliberate (but not necessarily criminal) that punishment is warranted. Fraud, battery, conversion (theft) and other intentional, insidious acts are usually required before punitive damages in West Hartford, Connecticut will be considered. Additionally, in deciding how much to award in punitive damages, a court will consider 2 main factors: the insidious nature of the defendant's conduct, and the actual harm that the plaintiff suffered as a result.
However, in West Hartford, Connecticut, the law places limits on punitive damages. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled many 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.
In general, punitive damages in West Hartford, Connecticut cannot be more than 10 times larger than the actual damages suffered by the plaintiff. However, this is not an absolute rule, and appeals courts in Connecticut have upheld much larger awards, and found much smaller awards to be invalid. It's determined on a case-by-case basis.
How Can a West Hartford, Connecticut Attorney Help?
In West Hartford, Connecticut, 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 are located in West Hartford, Connecticut, 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 West Hartford, Connecticut civil litigation attorney