Litigation Lawyers in Medford
In Medford, Massachusetts, civil litigation serves the main purpose of compensating individuals who have been victims of wrongdoing, and not meting out punishment, vengeance, or moral judgment.
This basic principle is subject to an significant exception, however. There are cases where a judge in Medford, 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 Medford, Massachusetts are not awarded easily, 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 Medford, Massachusetts
A majority of personal injury litigation actions in Medford, 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 Medford, Massachusetts, accidental harm may be enough to award the plaintiff compensatory damages, but it is not enough for punitive damages.
In Medford, Massachusetts, punitive damages are not awarded in most cases. They are usually only awarded when the defendant's behavior 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 Medford, Massachusetts 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.
Nonetheless, in Medford, Massachusetts, the law places limits on punitive damages. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled numerous times that punitive damages cannot be grossly disproportionate to the evil nature of the conduct, and the injuries that the defendant suffered. If they are disproportionate, punitive damages might be considered a deprivation of the defendant's right to due process of law.
In general, punitive damages in Medford, Massachusetts 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 Massachusetts 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 Medford, Massachusetts Attorney Help?
In Medford, Massachusetts, 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 immersed in a case in Medford, Massachusetts that you believe might entitle you to punitive damages, a lot of money could be at stake. Therefore, if you want to pursue your legal remedies, you should see a Medford, Massachusetts civil litigation attorney as soon as possible.