Litigation Lawyers in West Plains
The civil litigation system in West Plains, 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 West Plains, Missouri will award damages designed to punish the wrongdoer, and deter others from future wrongdoing. This practice is identified as "punitive damages."
It's crucial to note that courts in West Plains, Missouri prefer not to grant punitive damages. This is because the civil justice system is designed primarily to compensate the victims of wrongdoing. However, there are some cases where the defendant's conduct was so immoral and evil that civil courts have an interest in making them pay additional 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 West Plains, Missouri
Typically personal injury cases in West Plains, Missouri involve injuries that the defendant did not intend to cause, but was still at fault in causing them (through negligence, for example). In West Plains, Missouri, this is not enough to justify the award of punitive damages.
Punitive Damages in West Plains, Missouri are only awarded in cases where the behavior of the plaintiff was intentional and highly immoral, or extremely reckless. In West Plains, Missouri, 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.
There are limits on punitive damages in West Plains, Missouri. The Supreme Court has held that punitive damage awards which are grossly disproportionate to the immorality of the conduct, and the harm that it caused, are an unconstitutional deprivation of property without due process of law.
A good rule of thumb for calculating the upper limit of punitive damages in West Plains, 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 determine them based on the facts of each case. Because of this, punitive damage awards larger than 10 times compensatory damages are sometimes upheld, while much smaller awards have been overturned, because they were deemed excessive in a particular case.
How Can a West Plains, Missouri Attorney Help?
West Plains, Missouri's courts have wide discretion in awarding punitive damages. Accordingly, it is unrealistic to comprehensively discuss all the situations in which punitive damages can arise.
If you live in West Plains, Missouri and are engaged in a case that you believe carries the possibility of a punitive damage award, you may be entitled to a large amount of money from the person or company that hurt you. To know for sure, you should speak with a civil litigation attorney in West Plains, Missouri.