Litigation Lawyers in Spring Valley
In Spring Valley, Illinois, civil litigation serves the main purpose of compensating individuals who have been victims of wrongdoing, and not meting out punishment, vengeance, or moral judgment.
There is an exception to this basic rule, however: in certain cases, a court in Spring Valley, Illinois will award damages designed to punish the wrongdoer, and deter others from future wrongdoing. This practice is known as "punitive damages."
It's essential to note that courts in Spring Valley, Illinois 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 Spring Valley, Illinois
Mostly personal injury cases in Spring Valley, Illinois involve injuries that the defendant did not intend to cause, but was still at fault in causing them (through negligence, for instance). In Spring Valley, Illinois, this is not enough to justify the award of punitive damages.
Punitive Damages in Spring Valley, Illinois are only awarded in cases where the conduct of the plaintiff was intentional and highly immoral, or extremely reckless. In Spring Valley, 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 essential to know that punitive damages in Spring Valley, 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 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.
Generally, in Spring Valley, 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, nonetheless, 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 Spring Valley, Illinois Attorney Help?
In Spring Valley, 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 live in Spring Valley, Illinois and are involved in a case that you believe carries the possibility of a punitive damage award, you may be entitled to a large amount of funds from the person or company that injured you. To know for sure, you should speak with a civil litigation attorney in Spring Valley, Illinois.