Litigation Lawyers in La Grange
In La Grange, 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 La Grange, 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.
It's necessary to note that courts in La Grange, Kentucky 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 La Grange, Kentucky
Mostly personal injury cases in La Grange, Kentucky involve injuries that the defendant did not intend to cause, but was still at fault in causing them (through negligence, for instance). In La Grange, Kentucky, this is not enough to justify the award of punitive damages.
Punitive Damages in La Grange, Kentucky are only awarded in cases where the conduct of the plaintiff was intentional and highly immoral, or extremely reckless. In La Grange, Kentucky, 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 necessary to know that punitive damages in La Grange, Kentucky 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.
In general, punitive damages in La Grange, 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 La Grange, Kentucky Attorney Help?
In La Grange, Kentucky, there are a large variety of situations in which punitive damages are appropriate, because the decision to grant punitive damages is largely up to the discretion of the jury.
If you are involved in a case in La Grange, 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 La Grange, Kentucky civil litigation attorney as soon as possible.