Litigation Lawyers in Sandpoint
In Sandpoint, Idaho, the civil litigation system is mainly concerned with compensating the victims of wrongdoing, rather than punishing the wrongdoers, or casting moral blame upon them.
Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. In Sandpoint, Idaho, courts will, in fairly rare cases, require defendants to pay plaintiffs sums of money which aren't calculated by the actual harm and costs the plaintiff has incurred. Alternatively, these "punitive damages," as they are called, are meant to punish and deter wrongdoing.
It's important to note that courts in Sandpoint, Idaho prefer not to grant punitive damages. This is because the civil justice system is designed mainly to compensate the victims of wrongdoing. Nonetheless, there are some cases where the defendant's conduct was so immoral and evil that civil courts have an interest in making them pay further damages, going above and beyond what's needed to compensate the victim, in order to serve as a deterrent.
Conduct that can give rise to punitive damages in Sandpoint, Idaho
The vast majority of personal injury lawsuits in Sandpoint, Idaho involve cases 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 Sandpoint, Idaho.
Punitive Damages in Sandpoint, Idaho are only awarded in cases where the behavior of the plaintiff was intentional and highly immoral, or extremely reckless. In Sandpoint, Idaho, 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 important to know that punitive damages in Sandpoint, Idaho 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 sustained by the plaintiff. Grossly excessive punitive damage awards are unconstitutional, the Supreme Court has held, because they amount to the government acquiring property from the defendant without due process of law.
In general, punitive damages in Sandpoint, Idaho cannot be more than 10 times larger than the actual damages sustained by the plaintiff. Nonetheless, this is not an absolute rule, and appeals courts in Idaho have upheld much larger awards, and found much smaller awards to be invalid. It's decided on a case-by-case basis.
How Can a Sandpoint, Idaho Attorney Help?
In Sandpoint, Idaho, 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 cases that can lead to a punitive damage award.
If you have been hurt in Sandpoint, Idaho and you think punitive damages might be justified, a large amount of money might be at stake. For that reason, you should not delay to consult a civil litigation attorney in Sandpoint, Idaho.