Litigation Lawyers in Plymouth County
In Plymouth County, 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 Plymouth County, 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 Plymouth County, 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 Plymouth County, Massachusetts
A majority of personal injury litigation actions in Plymouth County, Massachusetts do not involve the possibility of punitive damages, because they typically involve injuries where the defendant is at fault for the harm caused, but did not intend to do any harm. In Plymouth County, Massachusetts, accidental harm may be enough to award the plaintiff compensatory damages, but it is not enough for punitive damages.
Punitive damages in Plymouth County, 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 Plymouth County, 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.
You should be aware of the fact that there are some pretty severe limits on punitive damages in Plymouth County, 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 considerable amounts of property.
Usually, in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, punitive damage awards that exceed the actual damages (those awarded to directly compensate the plaintiff) by a factor of 10. This is not an absolute rule, however, and is applied on a case-by-case basis. Courts in Massachusetts have found much smaller awards to be invalid, and upheld much larger awards.
How Can a Plymouth County, Massachusetts Attorney Help?
In Plymouth County, Massachusetts, there are a virtually unlimited number of situtations in which punitive damages can be awarded.
If you are engaged in a case in Plymouth County, Massachusetts 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 Plymouth County, Massachusetts civil litigation attorney as soon as possible.