Litigation Lawyers in Gretna
In Gretna, Louisiana, 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 situations, courts in Gretna, Louisiana 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.
You should be aware that courts in Gretna, Louisiana 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 Gretna, Louisiana
Generally personal injury cases in Gretna, Louisiana involve injuries that the defendant did not intend to cause, but was still at fault in causing them (through negligence, for example). In Gretna, Louisiana, this is not enough to justify the award of punitive damages.
Punitive Damages in Gretna, Louisiana are only awarded in cases where the actions of the plaintiff was intentional and highly immoral, or extremely reckless. In Gretna, Louisiana, 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 crucial to know that punitive damages in Gretna, Louisiana 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 suffered by the plaintiff. Grossly excessive punitive damage awards are unconstitutional, the Supreme Court has held, because they amount to the government taking property from the defendant without due process of law.
In general, punitive damages in Gretna, Louisiana cannot be more than 10 times larger than the actual damages suffered by the plaintiff. However, this is not an absolute rule, and appeals courts in Louisiana have upheld much larger awards, and found much smaller awards to be invalid. It's determined on a case-by-case basis.
How Can a Gretna, Louisiana Attorney Help?
In Gretna, Louisiana, 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 situations that can lead to a punitive damage award.
If you have been harmed in Gretna, Louisiana and you think punitive damages might be justified, a large amount of money might be at stake. For that reason, you should not hesitate to consult a civil litigation attorney in Gretna, Louisiana.