Litigation Lawyers in Lafayette Parish
In Lafayette Parish, Louisiana, 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 cases, courts in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana 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.
You should be cognizant that courts in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana 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 Lafayette Parish, Louisiana
Typically personal injury cases in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana involve injuries that the defendant did not intend to cause, but was still at fault in causing them (through negligence, for instance). In Lafayette Parish, Louisiana, this is not enough to justify the award of punitive damages.
In Lafayette Parish, Louisiana, punitive damages are not awarded in most cases. They are normally only awarded when the defendant's actions 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 Lafayette Parish, Louisiana 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 essential to know that punitive damages in Lafayette Parish, 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 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 Lafayette Parish, Louisiana 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 Louisiana 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 Lafayette Parish, Louisiana Attorney Help?
Lafayette Parish, Louisiana's courts have wide discretion in awarding punitive damages. Therefore, it is unrealistic to comprehensively discuss all the situations in which punitive damages can arise.
If you are engaged in a case in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana that you believe might entitle you to punitive damages, a lot of money could be at stake. Thus, if you want to pursue your legal remedies, you should see a Lafayette Parish, Louisiana civil litigation attorney as soon as possible.