Litigation Lawyers in Kill Devil Hills
The civil litigation system in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina 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.
Nonetheless, this general principle has a major exception. In rare cases, a Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina judge or jury can award damages to the plaintiff that are not calculated by the actual losses sustained. Instead, they serve the purpose of punishing the defendant, and deterring others from wrongdoing. These are called "punitive damages."
Punitive Damages in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina are not awarded easily, because the civil justice system generally disfavors giving plaintiffs financial windfalls not directly related to compensating them for their injuries. They are usually only awarded when the conduct of the defendant is morally reprehensible, and far worse than simple carelessness.
Conduct that can give rise to punitive damages in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina
A majority of personal injury litigation actions in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina do not involve the possibility of punitive damages, because they usually involve injuries where the defendant is at fault for the harm caused, but did not intend to do any harm. In Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, accidental harm may be enough to award the plaintiff compensatory damages, but it is not enough for punitive damages.
In Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, 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 Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina 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 know that punitive damages in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina are subject to limits. The Supreme Court of the United States has held, more than once, that punitive damages can't be grossly disproportionate to the actual harm sustained by the plaintiff. Grossly excessive punitive damage awards are unconstitutional, the Supreme Court has held, because they amount to the government acquiring property from the defendant without due process of law.
In general, punitive damages in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina cannot be more than 10 times larger than the actual damages sustained by the plaintiff. Nonetheless, this is not an absolute rule, and appeals courts in North Carolina have upheld much larger awards, and found much smaller awards to be invalid. It's decided on a case-by-case basis.
How Can a Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina Attorney Help?
In Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, 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 are located in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, 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 Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina civil litigation attorney