Litigation Lawyers in Martinsville
In Martinsville, Indiana, 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 Martinsville, Indiana will award damages designed to punish the wrongdoer, and deter others from future wrongdoing. This practice is known as "punitive damages."
You should be cognizant that courts in Martinsville, Indiana are not especially fond of authorizing 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 Martinsville, Indiana
Mostly personal injury cases in Martinsville, Indiana involve injuries that the defendant did not intend to cause, but was still at fault in causing them (through negligence, for instance). In Martinsville, Indiana, this is not enough to justify the award of punitive damages.
Punitive Damages in Martinsville, Indiana are only awarded in cases where the conduct of the plaintiff was intentional and highly immoral, or extremely reckless. In Martinsville, Indiana, 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 Martinsville, Indiana 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 Martinsville, Indiana, 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 Indiana have found much smaller awards to be invalid, and upheld much larger awards.
How Can a Martinsville, Indiana Attorney Help?
In Martinsville, Indiana, 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 Martinsville, Indiana 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 Martinsville, Indiana civil litigation attorney as soon as possible.