Suing for Punitive Damages in Dover

Find the right Litigation attorney in Dover, DE

Litigation Lawyers in Dover

In Dover, Delaware, 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 Dover, Delaware 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 Dover, Delaware, 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 Dover, Delaware

The vast majority of personal injury lawsuits in Dover, Delaware 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 Dover, Delaware.

Punitive damages in Dover, Delaware are not authorized 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 Dover, Delaware 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.

It's necessary to note that in Dover, Delaware, punitive damages are not unlimited. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that punitive damages cannot be hugely disproportionate to the amount awarded to compensate the plaintiff for the actual injuries they suffered. If the punitive damages are extremely excessive, an appeals court might rule that they amount to a deprivation of property without due process of law, or a de facto criminal punishment, without affording the defendant the protections available in criminal cases.

In Dover, Delaware, punitive damage awards are usually (but not always) capped at 10 times the amount awarded in compensatory damages. Remember, however, that this is just a basic rule of thumb, and is not completely rigid. In Delaware, appeals courts have a good deal of discretion in deciding if a punitive damage award is valid or invalid. Much larger awards have been upheld, and smaller awards have been overturned. The validity of a specific punitive damage award will depend heavily on the facts of each case.

How Can a Dover, Delaware Attorney Help?

Dover, Delaware'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 live in Dover, Delaware 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 Dover, Delaware.

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Life in Dover

Dover, Delaware is the capital of Delaware, and its second-largest city. It has a population of about 36,000 people.

Dover, Delaware was founded in 1683 by British colonists. Dover is perhaps best known as being the home of Caesar Rodney, a popular lawyer and wartime leader during the American Revolution. The city was also an important stop on the Underground Railroad, even though the population of Dover was sharply divided on the issue of slavery. Many Dover, Delaware lawyers helped runaway slaves once they arrived.

Modernly, Dover's economy is fairly diverse. The largest employer in Dover, as well as in the entire state of Delaware, is the state government. The vast majority of the state's administrative functions are located in and around Dover. Another major employer is the Dover Air Force Base. This federal presence, along with the state government, employs many Dover, Delaware lawyers.

Residents of Dover, Delaware who need legal advice should have little trouble finding a good Dover, Delaware attorney.

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