Litigation Lawyers in Battle Creek
In Battle Creek, Michigan, 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 Battle Creek, 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 aware that courts in Battle Creek, Michigan are not particularly fond of granting 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 Battle Creek, Michigan
Typically personal injury cases in Battle Creek, Michigan involve injuries that the defendant did not intend to cause, but was still at fault in causing them (through negligence, for example). In Battle Creek, Michigan, this is not enough to justify the award of punitive damages.
Punitive Damages in Battle Creek, Michigan are only awarded in cases where the behavior of the plaintiff was intentional and highly immoral, or extremely reckless. In Battle Creek, 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.
It's crucial to know that punitive damages in Battle Creek, Michigan 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 suffered by the plaintiff. Grossly excessive punitive damage awards are unconstitutional, the Supreme Court has held, because they amount to the government taking property from the defendant without due process of law.
In Battle Creek, Michigan, punitive damage awards are normally (but not always) capped at 10 times the amount awarded in compensatory damages. Remember, however, that this is just a general rule of thumb, and is not completely rigid. In Michigan, appeals courts have a good deal of discretion in deciding if a punitive damage award is valid or invalid. Much larger awards have been upheld, and smaller awards have been overturned. The validity of a particular punitive damage award will depend heavily on the facts of each case.
How Can a Battle Creek, Michigan Attorney Help?
In Battle Creek, Michigan, there are a virtually unlimited number of situtations in which punitive damages can be awarded.
If you are engaged in a case in Battle Creek, Michigan 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 Battle Creek, Michigan civil litigation attorney as soon as possible.