Litigation Lawyers in Hingham
In Hingham, 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 Hingham, 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 Hingham, Massachusetts are not awarded lightly, because the civil justice system typically 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 Hingham, Massachusetts
A majority of personal injury litigation actions in Hingham, Massachusetts do not involve the possibility of punitive damages, because they normally involve injuries where the defendant is at fault for the harm caused, but did not intend to do any harm. In Hingham, Massachusetts, accidental harm may be enough to award the plaintiff compensatory damages, but it is not enough for punitive damages.
In Hingham, Massachusetts, punitive damages are only awarded in extreme situations. Civil wrongs such as fraud, conversion (theft), battery, and other intentional, depraved acts are sufficient to award punitive damages. In deciding whether or not to award punitive damages, and how much money to award, courts in Hingham, Massachusetts will consider many different factors. Normally, they employ a sliding scale, weighing the nature of the conduct and the actual harm that the conduct caused. The more immoral the conduct, and/or the more harm caused, the more likely a court is to award punitive damages.
You should be aware of the fact that there are some pretty severe limits on punitive damages in Hingham, Massachusetts. The U.S. Supreme Court has found that there are constitutional limits on punitive damage awards. Punitive damages can't be too disproportionate to the actual damages that the plaintiff has suffered. Appeals courts have found that excessive punitive damage awards violate the defendant's right to due process, by depriving them of massive amounts of property.
In general, punitive damages in Hingham, Massachusetts 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 Massachusetts 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 Hingham, Massachusetts Attorney Help?
The law of Hingham, Massachusetts doesn't lay out many strict conditions which are required before punitive damages can be granted. Instead, it largely leaves it to the discretion of the courts. So, there are several situations where they might be awarded.
If you have been harmed in Hingham, Massachusetts 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 Hingham, Massachusetts.