Litigation Lawyers in Dodge City
In Dodge City, Kansas, 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 a major exception to this rule, however. In limited cases, courts in Dodge City, Kansas will order a defendant to pay the plaintiff damages which are not directly tied to any harm suffered by the plaintiff. Rather, these damages, which are known as "punitive damages", are meant to punish the wrongdoer, and serve as a deterrent.
Punitive Damages in Dodge City, Kansas are not awarded lightly, because the civil justice system usually disfavors giving plaintiffs financial windfalls not directly related to compensating them for their injuries. They are usually only awarded when the conduct of the defendant is morally reprehensible, and far worse than simple carelessness.
Conduct that can give rise to punitive damages in Dodge City, Kansas
Typically personal injury cases in Dodge City, Kansas involve injuries that the defendant did not intend to cause, but was still at fault in causing them (through negligence, for example). In Dodge City, Kansas, this is not enough to justify the award of punitive damages.
Punitive Damages in Dodge City, Kansas are only awarded in cases where the behavior of the plaintiff was intentional and highly immoral, or extremely reckless. In Dodge City, Kansas, 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 Dodge City, Kansas. 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 Dodge City, Kansas is that punitive damages can be no larger than compensatory damages times ten. This rule is not absolute, of course. Courts in Kansas 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 Dodge City, Kansas Attorney Help?
In Dodge City, Kansas, 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 cases that can lead to a punitive damage award.
If you are engaged in a case in Dodge City, Kansas where punitive damages are a possibility, a very large amount of money could be at stake, whether you are the plaintiff or defendant. You should not hesitate to speak with a civil litigation attorney in Dodge City, Kansas