Litigation Lawyers in Anne Arundel County
In Anne Arundel County, Maryland, 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 Anne Arundel County, Maryland 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 Anne Arundel County, Maryland 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 Anne Arundel County, Maryland
Generally personal injury cases in Anne Arundel County, Maryland do not involve punitive damages, because the defendant did not intend to cause harm, or act with some other form of malice. Rather, most of these cases involve situations where the defendant acted carelessly, but did not actually intend to cause harm. This is enough to award compensatory damages, but it is far from sufficient to award punitive damages in Anne Arundel County, Maryland.
In Anne Arundel County, Maryland, 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 Anne Arundel County, Maryland 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.
However, in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, the law places limits on punitive damages. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled many 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.
A good rule of thumb for calculating the upper limit of punitive damages in Anne Arundel County, Maryland is that punitive damages can be no larger than compensatory damages times ten. This rule is not absolute, of course. Courts in Maryland have a good deal of discretion in awarding punitive damages, and will determine them based on the facts of each case. Because of this, punitive damage awards larger than 10 times compensatory damages are sometimes upheld, while much smaller awards have been overturned, because they were deemed excessive in a particular case.
How Can a Anne Arundel County, Maryland Attorney Help?
In Anne Arundel County, Maryland, 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 immersed in a case in Anne Arundel County, Maryland 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 Anne Arundel County, Maryland