Litigation Lawyers in Montague

In Montague, 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 Montague, 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 Montague, 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 Montague, Massachusetts

A majority of personal injury litigation actions in Montague, 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 Montague, Massachusetts, accidental harm may be enough to award the plaintiff compensatory damages, but it is not enough for punitive damages.

In Montague, 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 Montague, 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.

It's necessary to know that punitive damages in Montague, Massachusetts 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 Montague, 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 Montague, Massachusetts Attorney Help?

In Montague, Massachusetts, 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 Montague, 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 Montague, Massachusetts.