Litigation Lawyers in Indianapolis
In Indianapolis, Indiana, 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 Indianapolis, Indiana will award damages designed to punish the wrongdoer, and deter others from future wrongdoing. This practice is identified as "punitive damages."
You should be aware that courts in Indianapolis, Indiana are not particularly fond of granting punitive damages, because they view it as a financial windfall that generally runs counter to civil litigation's primary purpose of compensating victims of wrongdoing for the harm they've suffered. However, if the conduct of the defendant was completely reprehensible and the harm caused was deliberate, a court might impose damages to punish the defendant, known as "punitive damages."
Conduct that can give rise to punitive damages in Indianapolis, Indiana
Typically personal injury cases in Indianapolis, Indiana involve injuries that the defendant did not intend to cause, but was still at fault in causing them (through negligence, for example). In Indianapolis, Indiana, this is not enough to justify the award of punitive damages.
Punitive damages in Indianapolis, Indiana are only awarded in the most extreme cases. Fraud, theft, assault, battery, and other intentional, immoral acts are grounds for punitive damages. Indianapolis, Indiana courts will consider various factors in considering whether or not to award punitive damages. For example, the court might employ a sliding scale that weighs the immorality of the defendant's behavior against the actual harm that it caused to the plaintiff, and calculate damages accordingly.
It's critical to note that in Indianapolis, Indiana, 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 Indianapolis, Indiana is that punitive damages can be no larger than compensatory damages times ten. This rule is not absolute, of course. Courts in Indiana 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 Indianapolis, Indiana Attorney Help?
In Indianapolis, Indiana, there are an essentially unlimited number of situtations in which punitive damages can be awarded.
If you are located in Indianapolis, Indiana, and are engaged in a case that you think, based on the information conveyed above, that might have punitive damages as an option, you can't be sure what, if anything, you're entitled to from the defendant until you consult with an Indianapolis, Indiana civil litigation attorney