Litigation Lawyers in Shelbyville
In Shelbyville, 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 Shelbyville, Illinois will award damages designed to punish the wrongdoer, and deter others from future wrongdoing. This practice is recognized as "punitive damages."
It's crucial to note that courts in Shelbyville, Illinois prefer not to grant punitive damages. This is because the civil justice system is designed primarily to compensate the victims of wrongdoing. However, there are some cases where the defendant's conduct was so immoral and evil that civil courts have an interest in making them pay additional 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 Shelbyville, Illinois
Generally personal injury cases in Shelbyville, Illinois involve injuries that the defendant did not intend to cause, but was still at fault in causing them (through negligence, for example). In Shelbyville, Illinois, this is not enough to justify the award of punitive damages.
Punitive Damages in Shelbyville, Illinois are only awarded in cases where the actions of the plaintiff was intentional and highly immoral, or extremely reckless. In Shelbyville, Illinois, 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 Shelbyville, Illinois. 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 Shelbyville, 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 Shelbyville, Illinois Attorney Help?
In Shelbyville, Illinois, 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 situations that can lead to a punitive damage award.
If you have been harmed in Shelbyville, Illinois and you think punitive damages might be justified, a large amount of money might be at stake. For that reason, you should not hesitate to consult a civil litigation attorney in Shelbyville, Illinois.