Litigation Lawyers in Cordele
In Cordele, Georgia, 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 Cordele, Georgia 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.
You should be aware that courts in Cordele, Georgia are not particularly fond of granting punitive damages, because they view it as a financial windfall that generally runs counter to civil litigation's primary purpose of compensating victims of wrongdoing for the harm they've suffered. However, if the conduct of the defendant was completely reprehensible and the harm caused was deliberate, a court might impose damages to punish the defendant, known as "punitive damages."
Conduct that can give rise to punitive damages in Cordele, Georgia
The vast majority of personal injury lawsuits in Cordele, Georgia 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 Cordele, Georgia.
Punitive Damages in Cordele, Georgia are only awarded in cases where the actions of the plaintiff was intentional and highly immoral, or extremely reckless. In Cordele, Georgia, 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.
It's crucial to know that punitive damages in Cordele, Georgia are subject to limits. The Supreme Court of the United States has held, more than once, that punitive damages can't be grossly disproportionate to the actual harm suffered by the plaintiff. Grossly excessive punitive damage awards are unconstitutional, the Supreme Court has held, because they amount to the government taking property from the defendant without due process of law.
In Cordele, Georgia, 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 general rule of thumb, and is not completely rigid. In Georgia, 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 particular punitive damage award will depend heavily on the facts of each case.
How Can a Cordele, Georgia Attorney Help?
Cordele, Georgia's courts have wide discretion in awarding punitive damages. Accordingly, it is impractical to comprehensively discuss all the situations in which punitive damages can arise.
If you are immersed in a case in Cordele, Georgia where punitive damages are a possibility, a very large amount of money could be at stake, whether you are the plaintiff or defendant. You should not hesitate to speak with a civil litigation attorney in Cordele, Georgia