Litigation Lawyers in Hartwell
In Hartwell, Georgia, 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 Hartwell, 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 cognizant that courts in Hartwell, Georgia are not especially fond of authorizing 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 Hartwell, Georgia
Typically personal injury cases in Hartwell, Georgia involve injuries that the defendant did not intend to cause, but was still at fault in causing them (through negligence, for instance). In Hartwell, Georgia, this is not enough to justify the award of punitive damages.
Punitive Damages in Hartwell, Georgia are only awarded in cases where the behavior of the plaintiff was intentional and highly immoral, or extremely reckless. In Hartwell, 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.
There are limits on punitive damages in Hartwell, Georgia. The Supreme Court has held that punitive damage awards which are grossly disproportionate to the immorality of the conduct, and the harm that it caused, are an unconstitutional deprivation of property without due process of law.
A good rule of thumb for calculating the upper limit of punitive damages in Hartwell, Georgia is that punitive damages can be no larger than compensatory damages times ten. This rule is not absolute, of course. Courts in Georgia have a good deal of discretion in awarding punitive damages, and will decide them based on the facts of each case. Because of this, punitive damage awards larger than 10 times compensatory damages are occasionally upheld, while much smaller awards have been overturned, because they were deemed excessive in a certain case.
How Can a Hartwell, Georgia Attorney Help?
Hartwell, Georgia's courts have wide discretion in awarding punitive damages. Therefore, it is unrealistic to comprehensively discuss all the situations in which punitive damages can arise.
If you live in Hartwell, Georgia and are engaged 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 hurt you. To know for sure, you should speak with a civil litigation attorney in Hartwell, Georgia.