Litigation Lawyers in Highland Park
In Highland Park, 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 Highland Park, Illinois will award damages designed to punish the wrongdoer, and deter others from future wrongdoing. This practice is identified as "punitive damages."
Courts in Highland Park, 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 Highland Park, Illinois
Typically personal injury cases in Highland Park, Illinois involve injuries that the defendant did not intend to cause, but was still at fault in causing them (through negligence, for example). In Highland Park, Illinois, this is not enough to justify the award of punitive damages.
In Highland Park, 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 Highland Park, 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 essential to know that punitive damages in Highland Park, Illinois 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.
Usually, in Highland Park, Illinois, punitive damage awards that exceed the actual damages (those awarded to directly compensate the plaintiff) by a factor of 10. This is not an absolute rule, however, and is applied on a case-by-case basis. Courts in Illinois have found much smaller awards to be invalid, and upheld much larger awards.
How Can a Highland Park, Illinois Attorney Help?
In Highland Park, Illinois, there are a virtually unlimited number of situtations in which punitive damages can be awarded.
If you are engaged in a case in Highland Park, Illinois that you believe might entitle you to punitive damages, a lot of money could be at stake. Thus, if you want to pursue your legal remedies, you should see a Highland Park, Illinois civil litigation attorney as soon as possible.