Litigation Lawyers in Bedford
The civil litigation system in Bedford, 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 Bedford, 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 Bedford, 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 Bedford, New Hampshire
A majority of personal injury litigation actions in Bedford, New Hampshire do not involve the possibility of punitive damages, because they typically involve injuries where the defendant is at fault for the harm caused, but did not intend to do any harm. In Bedford, New Hampshire, accidental harm may be enough to award the plaintiff compensatory damages, but it is not enough for punitive damages.
Punitive damages in Bedford, New Hampshire are only awarded in the most extreme cases. Fraud, theft, assault, battery, and other intentional, immoral acts are grounds for punitive damages. Bedford, New Hampshire courts will consider various 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 behavior against the actual harm that it caused to the plaintiff, and calculate damages accordingly.
It's essential to know that punitive damages in Bedford, New Hampshire 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 suffered by the plaintiff. Grossly excessive punitive damage awards are unconstitutional, the Supreme Court has held, because they amount to the government taking property from the defendant without due process of law.
Punitive damages in Bedford, New Hampshire typically cannot exceed 10 times the amount of actual damages suffered by the plaintiff. However, this is just a guideline, and not a strict rule. Courts in New Hampshire have found larger punitive damage awards to be perfectly valid, and smaller ones to be invalid. This will be highly dependent on the facts of each case.
How Can a Bedford, New Hampshire Attorney Help?
In Bedford, New Hampshire, 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 cases that can lead to a punitive damage award.
If you are engaged in a case in Bedford, 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 Bedford, New Hampshire