Litigation Lawyers in Riverdale Park
In Riverdale Park, 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 Riverdale Park, 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 Riverdale Park, 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 Riverdale Park, Maryland
Generally personal injury cases in Riverdale Park, Maryland involve injuries that the defendant did not intend to cause, but was still at fault in causing them (through negligence, for instance). In Riverdale Park, Maryland, this is not enough to justify the award of punitive damages.
In Riverdale Park, 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 Riverdale Park, 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.
It's important to know that punitive damages in Riverdale Park, Maryland 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 sustained by the plaintiff. Grossly excessive punitive damage awards are unconstitutional, the Supreme Court has held, because they amount to the government acquiring property from the defendant without due process of law.
Typically, in Riverdale Park, Maryland, 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, nonetheless, and is applied on a case-by-case basis. Courts in Maryland have found much smaller awards to be invalid, and upheld much larger awards.
How Can a Riverdale Park, Maryland Attorney Help?
In Riverdale Park, Maryland, 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 Riverdale Park, 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 delay to speak with a civil litigation attorney in Riverdale Park, Maryland