Litigation Lawyers in Valley Park
The civil litigation system in Valley Park, Missouri is designed to provide compensation for persons 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 basic rule, however: in certain cases, a court in Valley Park, Missouri will award damages designed to punish the wrongdoer, and deter others from future wrongdoing. This practice is identified as "punitive damages."
It's critical to note that courts in Valley Park, Missouri prefer not to grant punitive damages. This is because the civil justice system is designed mainly to compensate the victims of wrongdoing. Nonetheless, there are some cases where the defendant's conduct was so immoral and evil that civil courts have an interest in making them pay further damages, going above and beyond what's needed to compensate the victim, in order to serve as a deterrent.
Conduct that can give rise to punitive damages in Valley Park, Missouri
Typically personal injury cases in Valley Park, Missouri involve injuries that the defendant did not intend to cause, but was still at fault in causing them (through negligence, for instance). In Valley Park, Missouri, this is not enough to justify the award of punitive damages.
Punitive damages in Valley Park, Missouri are only awarded in the most extreme cases. Fraud, theft, assault, battery, and other intentional, immoral acts are grounds for punitive damages. Valley Park, Missouri courts will consider various factors in considering whether or not to award punitive damages. For instance, the court might employ a sliding scale that weighs the immorality of the defendant's behavior against the actual harm that it caused to the plaintiff, and calculate damages accordingly.
You should be cognizant of the fact that there are some pretty severe limits on punitive damages in Valley Park, Missouri. 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 considerable amounts of property.
A good rule of thumb for calculating the upper limit of punitive damages in Valley Park, Missouri is that punitive damages can be no larger than compensatory damages times ten. This rule is not absolute, of course. Courts in Missouri have a good deal of discretion in awarding punitive damages, and will decide them based on the facts of each case. Because of this, punitive damage awards larger than 10 times compensatory damages are occasionally upheld, while much smaller awards have been overturned, because they were deemed excessive in a certain case.
How Can a Valley Park, Missouri Attorney Help?
In Valley Park, Missouri, 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 have been hurt in Valley Park, Missouri and you think punitive damages might be justified, a large amount of money might be at stake. For that reason, you should not delay to consult a civil litigation attorney in Valley Park, Missouri.