Litigation Lawyers in Pinehurst
The civil litigation system in Pinehurst, 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 Pinehurst, 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 Pinehurst, 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 Pinehurst, North Carolina
Personal injury litigation doesn't usually carry with it the possibility of punitive damages in Pinehurst, North Carolina, because mostly personal injury cases stem from harm that was caused accidentally, not deliberately. Accidental harm is not enough to warrant an award of punitive damages in Pinehurst, North Carolina.
Punitive Damages in Pinehurst, North Carolina are only awarded in cases where the conduct of the plaintiff was intentional and highly immoral, or extremely reckless. In Pinehurst, North Carolina, 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.
Nonetheless, in Pinehurst, North Carolina, the law places limits on punitive damages. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled numerous times that punitive damages cannot be grossly disproportionate to the evil nature of the conduct, and the injuries that the defendant suffered. If they are disproportionate, punitive damages might be considered a deprivation of the defendant's right to due process of law.
A good rule of thumb for calculating the upper limit of punitive damages in Pinehurst, North Carolina is that punitive damages can be no larger than compensatory damages times ten. This rule is not absolute, of course. Courts in North Carolina 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 Pinehurst, North Carolina Attorney Help?
In Pinehurst, North Carolina, judges and juries have a good deal of leeway in deciding if they want to grant punitive damages, so there are a nearly-unlimited number of circumstances that can lead to a punitive damage award.
If you are involved in a case in Pinehurst, North Carolina where punitive damages are a possibility, a very large amount of money could be at stake, whether you are the plaintiff or defendant. You should not delay to speak with a civil litigation attorney in Pinehurst, North Carolina