Suing for Punitive Damages in Hagerstown

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Litigation Lawyers in Hagerstown

In Hagerstown, Maryland, 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 Hagerstown, 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.

Courts in Hagerstown, Maryland do not authorize punitive damages in most cases. The civil litigation system is geared against authorizing financial windfalls to civil plaintiffs. But, there are rare cases, where the defendant has done something to the plaintiff that is so morally reprehensible, that society's interest in punishing the defendant and deterring comparable misconduct outweighs the civil justice system's preference against punitive damages.

Conduct that can give rise to punitive damages in Hagerstown, Maryland

The vast majority of personal injury lawsuits in Hagerstown, Maryland involve cases in which the defendant did not intend to harm the plaintiff, but did so through carelessness. This is not enough to award punitive damages in Hagerstown, Maryland.

Punitive damages in Hagerstown, Maryland are not authorized 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 Hagerstown, Maryland 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.

It's crucial to note that in Hagerstown, Maryland, punitive damages are not unlimited. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that punitive damages cannot be hugely disproportionate to the amount awarded to compensate the plaintiff for the actual injuries they suffered. If the punitive damages are extremely excessive, an appeals court might rule that they amount to a deprivation of property without due process of law, or a de facto criminal punishment, without affording the defendant the protections available in criminal cases.

In general, punitive damages in Hagerstown, Maryland 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 Maryland 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 Hagerstown, Maryland Attorney Help?

Hagerstown, Maryland's courts have wide discretion in awarding punitive damages. Therefore, it is unrealistic to comprehensively discuss all the situations in which punitive damages can arise.

If you are located in Hagerstown, Maryland, and are engaged in a case that you think, based on the information conveyed above, that might have punitive damages as an option, you can't be sure what, if anything, you're entitled to from the defendant until you consult with a Hagerstown, Maryland civil litigation attorney

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Life in Hagerstown

Hagerstown is the county seat of Washington County, located in the state of Maryland. It was founded in 1762 and has a population of about 40,000. It is the sixth largest city in the state and the largest city in the area known as Western Maryland. It is considered to be the industrial and commercial center of the greater Tri-State area, and is therefore locally known as "The Hub City".

Hagerstown received its reputation as a commercial nexus due to its heritage in the transportation industry, namely the railroad and airport industries. As a result today the city has several museums commemorating its rich beginnings, including the Train Museum. The city continues to promote development with the Neighborhoods 1st Program. The program encourages community improvement through participation in local government and planning.

Many unique events draw visitors and tourists throughout the year. For example, the city hosts fairs like Market in the Square, Colonial Family Fun Day, and Augustoberfest. Downtown Hagerstown is an ideal place for shopping, retail and recreation. It is also an excellent site to start a career, as many companies have made their home in the city.

Lawyers in Hagerstown typically practice in a wide range of legal fields and some specialize in particular areas of law. Hagerstown, Maryland lawyers usually file their claims at the Washington County District Court located in Hagerstown.

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