Litigation Lawyers in North Palm Beach
In North Palm Beach, Florida, 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 North Palm Beach, Florida 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.
Courts in North Palm Beach, Florida do not grant punitive damages in most cases. The civil litigation system is geared against granting financial windfalls to civil plaintiffs. But, there are rare cases, where the defendant has done something to the plaintiff that is so morally reprehensible, that society's interest in punishing the defendant and deterring similar misconduct outweighs the civil justice system's preference against punitive damages.
Conduct that can give rise to punitive damages in North Palm Beach, Florida
Generally personal injury cases in North Palm Beach, Florida involve injuries that the defendant did not intend to cause, but was still at fault in causing them (through negligence, for example). In North Palm Beach, Florida, this is not enough to justify the award of punitive damages.
Punitive damages in North Palm Beach, Florida are only awarded in the most extreme cases. Fraud, theft, assault, battery, and other intentional, immoral acts are grounds for punitive damages. North Palm Beach, Florida courts will consider many factors in considering whether or not to award punitive damages. For example, the court might employ a sliding scale that weighs the immorality of the defendant's actions against the actual harm that it caused to the plaintiff, and calculate damages accordingly.
You should be aware of the fact that there are some pretty severe limits on punitive damages in North Palm Beach, Florida. 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.
A good rule of thumb for calculating the upper limit of punitive damages in North Palm Beach, Florida is that punitive damages can be no larger than compensatory damages times ten. This rule is not absolute, of course. Courts in Florida have a good deal of discretion in awarding punitive damages, and will determine them based on the facts of each case. Because of this, punitive damage awards larger than 10 times compensatory damages are sometimes upheld, while much smaller awards have been overturned, because they were deemed excessive in a particular case.
How Can a North Palm Beach, Florida Attorney Help?
In North Palm Beach, Florida, 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 have been harmed in North Palm Beach, Florida and you think punitive damages might be justified, a large amount of money might be at stake. For that reason, you should not hesitate to consult a civil litigation attorney in North Palm Beach, Florida.