Litigation Lawyers in East Longmeadow
In East Longmeadow, Massachusetts, civil litigation serves the primary purpose of compensating people who have been victims of wrongdoing, and not meting out punishment, vengeance, or moral judgment.
This general principle is subject to an important exception, however. There are cases where a judge in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts will order a defendant to pay the plaintiff a sum of money which is not calculated based on actual harm the plaintiff has suffered. These are called "punitive damages" and serve the purpose of punishing and deterring wrongdoing.
Punitive Damages in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts 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 East Longmeadow, Massachusetts
Typically personal injury cases in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts involve injuries that the defendant did not intend to cause, but was still at fault in causing them (through negligence, for example). In East Longmeadow, Massachusetts, this is not enough to justify the award of punitive damages.
Punitive damages in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts are not granted in many cases. They are only awarded when the defendant's behavior was so deplorable and deliberate (but not necessarily criminal) that punishment is warranted. Fraud, battery, conversion (theft) and other intentional, insidious acts are usually required before punitive damages in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts will be considered. Moreover, in deciding how much to award in punitive damages, a court will consider 2 main factors: the insidious nature of the defendant's conduct, and the actual harm that the plaintiff suffered as a result.
There are limits on punitive damages in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts. 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.
In East Longmeadow, Massachusetts, punitive damage awards are normally (but not always) capped at 10 times the amount awarded in compensatory damages. Remember, however, that this is just a general rule of thumb, and is not completely rigid. In Massachusetts, appeals courts have a good deal of discretion in deciding if a punitive damage award is valid or invalid. Much larger awards have been upheld, and smaller awards have been overturned. The validity of a particular punitive damage award will depend heavily on the facts of each case.
How Can a East Longmeadow, Massachusetts Attorney Help?
In East Longmeadow, Massachusetts, there are a large number of cases 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 engaged in a case in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts 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 East Longmeadow, Massachusetts