Litigation Lawyers in Ann Arbor
In Ann Arbor, Michigan, 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 Ann Arbor, Michigan 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.
You should be cognizant that courts in Ann Arbor, Michigan are not especially fond of authorizing punitive damages, because they view it as a financial windfall that generally runs counter to civil litigation's primary purpose of compensating victims of wrongdoing for the harm they've suffered. However, if the conduct of the defendant was completely reprehensible and the harm caused was deliberate, a court might impose damages to punish the defendant, known as "punitive damages."
Conduct that can give rise to punitive damages in Ann Arbor, Michigan
Mostly personal injury cases in Ann Arbor, Michigan involve injuries that the defendant did not intend to cause, but was still at fault in causing them (through negligence, for instance). In Ann Arbor, Michigan, this is not enough to justify the award of punitive damages.
Punitive Damages in Ann Arbor, Michigan are only awarded in cases where the conduct of the plaintiff was intentional and highly immoral, or extremely reckless. In Ann Arbor, Michigan, torts such as fraud, gross negligence, and theft are sufficient to award punitive damages. Courts consider numerous factors when deciding whether or not punitive damages are warranted. Courts will look at the nature of the act, as well as the defendant's intent in performing the act. This will be weighed, on a sliding scale, against the actual harm that the defendant's conduct caused to the plaintiff.
You should be cognizant of the fact that there are some pretty severe limits on punitive damages in Ann Arbor, Michigan. 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 large amounts of property.
In general, punitive damages in Ann Arbor, Michigan 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 Michigan 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 Ann Arbor, Michigan Attorney Help?
Ann Arbor, Michigan's courts have wide discretion in awarding punitive damages. Therefore, it is impossible to comprehensively discuss all the situations in which punitive damages can arise.
If you are located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and are involved 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 Ann Arbor, Michigan civil litigation attorney