Litigation Lawyers in South Holland
In South Holland, 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 South Holland, Illinois will award damages designed to punish the wrongdoer, and deter others from future wrongdoing. This practice is known as "punitive damages."
It's critical to note that courts in South Holland, 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 South Holland, Illinois
Mostly personal injury cases in South Holland, Illinois involve injuries that the defendant did not intend to cause, but was still at fault in causing them (through negligence, for example). In South Holland, Illinois, this is not enough to justify the award of punitive damages.
Punitive Damages in South Holland, Illinois are only awarded in cases where the conduct of the plaintiff was intentional and highly immoral, or extremely reckless. In South Holland, 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.
It's critical to know that punitive damages in South Holland, 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.
In general, punitive damages in South Holland, Illinois cannot be more than 10 times larger than the actual damages suffered by the plaintiff. However, this is not an absolute rule, and appeals courts in Illinois have upheld much larger awards, and found much smaller awards to be invalid. It's determined on a case-by-case basis.
How Can a South Holland, Illinois Attorney Help?
In South Holland, 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 circumstances that can lead to a punitive damage award.
If you are involved in a case in South Holland, Illinois that you believe might entitle you to punitive damages, a lot of money could be at stake. So, if you want to pursue your legal remedies, you should see a South Holland, Illinois civil litigation attorney as soon as possible.