Litigation Lawyers in Bergen County
The civil litigation system in Bergen County, New Jersey 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 Bergen County, New Jersey 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."
You should be cognizant that courts in Bergen County, New Jersey are not especially fond of authorizing 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 Bergen County, New Jersey
Personal injury litigation doesn't typically carry with it the possibility of punitive damages in Bergen County, New Jersey, because typically 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 Bergen County, New Jersey.
Punitive Damages in Bergen County, New Jersey are only awarded in cases where the behavior of the plaintiff was intentional and highly immoral, or extremely reckless. In Bergen County, New Jersey, 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.
There are limits on punitive damages in Bergen County, New Jersey. 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.
In Bergen County, New Jersey, punitive damage awards are normally (but not always) capped at 10 times the amount awarded in compensatory damages. Remember, however, that this is just a basic rule of thumb, and is not completely rigid. In New Jersey, appeals courts have a good deal of discretion in deciding if a punitive damage award is valid or invalid. Much larger awards have been upheld, and smaller awards have been overturned. The validity of a specific punitive damage award will depend heavily on the facts of each case.
How Can a Bergen County, New Jersey Attorney Help?
Bergen County, New Jersey's courts have wide discretion in awarding punitive damages. Therefore, it is unrealistic to comprehensively discuss all the situations in which punitive damages can arise.
If you live in Bergen County, New Jersey and are engaged in a case that you believe carries the possibility of a punitive damage award, you may be entitled to a large amount of funds from the person or company that hurt you. To know for sure, you should speak with a civil litigation attorney in Bergen County, New Jersey.