Litigation Lawyers in Hawthorn Woods
In Hawthorn Woods, Illinois, civil litigation serves the primary purpose of compensating people who have been victims of wrongdoing, and not meting out punishment, vengeance, or moral judgment.
There is an exception to this general rule, however: in some cases, a court in Hawthorn Woods, Illinois will award damages designed to punish the wrongdoer, and deter others from future wrongdoing. This practice is identified as "punitive damages."
Courts in Hawthorn Woods, Illinois 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 Hawthorn Woods, Illinois
Typically personal injury cases in Hawthorn Woods, Illinois involve injuries that the defendant did not intend to cause, but was still at fault in causing them (through negligence, for example). In Hawthorn Woods, Illinois, this is not enough to justify the award of punitive damages.
In Hawthorn Woods, Illinois, punitive damages are not awarded in most cases. They are normally only awarded when the defendant's actions was so reckless or deplorable that punishment of the defendant is warranted. Acts such as battery, fraud, and defamation (in some cases) are usually considered sufficient in Hawthorn Woods, Illinois to justify punitive damages. In deciding whether to award punitive damages, and how much to award, the two most important factors the court looks at will be the level of immorality of the act, as well as the actual harm that the plaintiff suffered as a result of the defendant's conduct.
It's critical to note that in Hawthorn Woods, Illinois, punitive damages are not unlimited. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that punitive damages cannot be hugely disproportionate to the amount awarded to compensate the plaintiff for the actual injuries they suffered. If the punitive damages are extremely excessive, an appeals court might rule that they amount to a deprivation of property without due process of law, or a de facto criminal punishment, without affording the defendant the protections available in criminal cases.
A good rule of thumb for calculating the upper limit of punitive damages in Hawthorn Woods, Illinois is that punitive damages can be no larger than compensatory damages times ten. This rule is not absolute, of course. Courts in Illinois 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 Hawthorn Woods, Illinois Attorney Help?
Hawthorn Woods, Illinois's courts have wide discretion in awarding punitive damages. Accordingly, it is unrealistic to comprehensively discuss all the situations in which punitive damages can arise.
If you are engaged in a case in Hawthorn Woods, Illinois 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 Hawthorn Woods, Illinois