Litigation Lawyers in Alton

The civil litigation system in Alton, New Hampshire 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.

However, this general principle has a major exception. In rare cases, a Alton, New Hampshire judge or jury can award damages to the plaintiff that are not calculated by the actual losses suffered. Instead, they serve the purpose of punishing the defendant, and deterring others from wrongdoing. These are called "punitive damages."

You should be aware that courts in Alton, New Hampshire 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 Alton, New Hampshire

A majority of personal injury litigation actions in Alton, New Hampshire do not involve the possibility of punitive damages, because they normally involve injuries where the defendant is at fault for the harm caused, but did not intend to do any harm. In Alton, New Hampshire, accidental harm may be enough to award the plaintiff compensatory damages, but it is not enough for punitive damages.

Punitive damages in Alton, New Hampshire are only awarded in the most extreme cases. Fraud, theft, assault, battery, and other intentional, immoral acts are grounds for punitive damages. Alton, New Hampshire courts will consider many factors in considering whether or not to award punitive damages. For example, the court might employ a sliding scale that weighs the immorality of the defendant's actions against the actual harm that it caused to the plaintiff, and calculate damages accordingly.

You should be aware of the fact that there are some pretty severe limits on punitive damages in Alton, New Hampshire. 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 massive amounts of property.

A good rule of thumb for calculating the upper limit of punitive damages in Alton, New Hampshire is that punitive damages can be no larger than compensatory damages times ten. This rule is not absolute, of course. Courts in New Hampshire 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 Alton, New Hampshire Attorney Help?

Alton, New Hampshire's courts have wide discretion in awarding punitive damages. Accordingly, it is impractical to comprehensively discuss all the situations in which punitive damages can arise.

If you are immersed in a case in Alton, New Hampshire 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 hesitate to speak with a civil litigation attorney in Alton, New Hampshire