Litigation Lawyers in Great Falls
The civil litigation system in Great Falls, Montana 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 Great Falls, Montana will award damages designed to punish the wrongdoer, and deter others from future wrongdoing. This practice is identified as "punitive damages."
You should be aware that courts in Great Falls, Montana 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 Great Falls, Montana
Typically personal injury cases in Great Falls, Montana involve injuries that the defendant did not intend to cause, but was still at fault in causing them (through negligence, for example). In Great Falls, Montana, this is not enough to justify the award of punitive damages.
Punitive Damages in Great Falls, Montana are only awarded in cases where the behavior of the plaintiff was intentional and highly immoral, or extremely reckless. In Great Falls, Montana, 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 aware of the fact that there are some pretty severe limits on punitive damages in Great Falls, Montana. 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.
Usually, in Great Falls, Montana, punitive damage awards that exceed the actual damages (those awarded to directly compensate the plaintiff) by a factor of 10. This is not an absolute rule, however, and is applied on a case-by-case basis. Courts in Montana have found much smaller awards to be invalid, and upheld much larger awards.
How Can a Great Falls, Montana Attorney Help?
In Great Falls, Montana, there are a virtually unlimited number of situtations in which punitive damages can be awarded.
If you are located in Great Falls, Montana, and are engaged 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 Great Falls, Montana civil litigation attorney