Litigation Lawyers in Sebring
In Sebring, 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 Sebring, 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 Sebring, 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 Sebring, Florida
Mostly personal injury cases in Sebring, Florida do not involve punitive damages, because the defendant did not intend to cause harm, or act with some other form of malice. Instead, 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 Sebring, Florida.
Punitive damages in Sebring, Florida are only awarded in the most extreme cases. Fraud, theft, assault, battery, and other intentional, immoral acts are grounds for punitive damages. Sebring, Florida courts will consider several 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 conduct against the actual harm that it caused to the plaintiff, and calculate damages accordingly.
However, in Sebring, Florida, the law places limits on punitive damages. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled several 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.
Punitive damages in Sebring, Florida usually cannot exceed 10 times the amount of actual damages suffered by the plaintiff. However, this is just a guideline, and not a strict rule. Courts in Florida have found larger punitive damage awards to be perfectly valid, and smaller ones to be invalid. This will be highly dependent on the facts of each case.
How Can a Sebring, Florida Attorney Help?
In Sebring, Florida, 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 circumstances that can lead to a punitive damage award.
If you are involved in a case in Sebring, Florida that you believe might entitle you to punitive damages, a lot of money could be at stake. So, if you want to pursue your legal remedies, you should see a Sebring, Florida civil litigation attorney as soon as possible.