Litigation Lawyers in Ste. Genevieve
The civil litigation system in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri is designed to provide compensation for individuals who are injured because of the unlawful conduct of others. It is not much concerned with punishing or deterring wrongdoers.
There is an exception to this general rule, however: in some cases, a court in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri will award damages designed to punish the wrongdoer, and deter others from future wrongdoing. This practice is identified as "punitive damages."
In Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, punitive damages are not awarded in many cases. This is because the civil litigation system strongly disfavors giving money to plaintiffs in amounts disproportionate to the injuries they have suffered. However, in some cases, the conduct of the defendant is so reprehensible, that simply punishing the defendant is a worthy goal, and this interest outweighs the preference against giving civil plaintiffs financial windfalls.
Conduct that can give rise to punitive damages in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri
Typically personal injury cases in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri do not involve punitive damages, because the defendant did not intend to cause harm, or act with some other form of malice. Alternatively, 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 Ste. Genevieve, Missouri.
In Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, punitive damages are not awarded in most cases. They are normally only awarded when the defendant's actions 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 Ste. Genevieve, Missouri 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 critical to note that in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, 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 Ste. Genevieve, Missouri cannot be more than 10 times larger than the actual damages suffered by the plaintiff. However, this is not an absolute rule, and appeals courts in Missouri have upheld much larger awards, and found much smaller awards to be invalid. It's determined on a case-by-case basis.
How Can a Ste. Genevieve, Missouri Attorney Help?
In Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, judges and juries have a good deal of leeway in deciding if they want to grant punitive damages, so there are a nearly-unlimited number of cases that can lead to a punitive damage award.
If you have been hurt in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri and you think punitive damages might be justified, a large amount of money might be at stake. For that reason, you should not hesitate to consult a civil litigation attorney in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri.