Litigation Lawyers in Livingston
The civil litigation system in Livingston, 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 Livingston, Montana will award damages designed to punish the wrongdoer, and deter others from future wrongdoing. This practice is known as "punitive damages."
You should be aware that courts in Livingston, 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 Livingston, Montana
Mostly personal injury cases in Livingston, Montana involve injuries that the defendant did not intend to cause, but was still at fault in causing them (through negligence, for example). In Livingston, Montana, this is not enough to justify the award of punitive damages.
In Livingston, Montana, punitive damages are not awarded in most cases. They are typically only awarded when the defendant's conduct 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 Livingston, Montana 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.
There are limits on punitive damages in Livingston, Montana. 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 Livingston, Montana is that punitive damages can be no larger than compensatory damages times ten. This rule is not absolute, of course. Courts in Montana 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 Livingston, Montana Attorney Help?
Livingston, Montana's courts have wide discretion in awarding punitive damages. Accordingly, it is impossible to comprehensively discuss all the situations in which punitive damages can arise.
If you are located in Livingston, Montana, and are involved 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 Livingston, Montana civil litigation attorney