Litigation Lawyers in Bowling Green
In Bowling Green, Kentucky, 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 a major exception to this rule, however. In limited circumstances, courts in Bowling Green, Kentucky will order a defendant to pay the plaintiff damages which are not directly tied to any harm sustained 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 Bowling Green, Kentucky are not awarded easily, because the civil justice system generally 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 Bowling Green, Kentucky
Mostly personal injury cases in Bowling Green, Kentucky do not involve punitive damages, because the defendant did not intend to cause harm, or act with some other form of malice. Instead, most of these cases involve situations where the defendant acted carelessly, but did not actually intend to cause harm. This is enough to award compensatory damages, but it is far from sufficient to award punitive damages in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
In Bowling Green, Kentucky, punitive damages are not awarded in most cases. They are typically only awarded when the defendant's conduct was so reckless or deplorable that punishment of the defendant is warranted. Acts such as battery, fraud, and defamation (in some cases) are usually considered sufficient in Bowling Green, Kentucky to justify punitive damages. In deciding whether to award punitive damages, and how much to award, the two most important factors the court looks at will be the level of immorality of the act, as well as the actual harm that the plaintiff suffered as a result of the defendant's conduct.
It's crucial to note that in Bowling Green, Kentucky, 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.
In general, punitive damages in Bowling Green, Kentucky cannot be more than 10 times larger than the actual damages sustained by the plaintiff. Nonetheless, this is not an absolute rule, and appeals courts in Kentucky have upheld much larger awards, and found much smaller awards to be invalid. It's decided on a case-by-case basis.
How Can a Bowling Green, Kentucky Attorney Help?
In Bowling Green, Kentucky, 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 Bowling Green, Kentucky 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 Bowling Green, Kentucky civil litigation attorney as soon as possible.