Litigation Lawyers in Chatham
The civil litigation system in Chatham, New Jersey 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 Chatham, New Jersey 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 Chatham, New Jersey 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 Chatham, New Jersey
Personal injury litigation doesn't typically carry with it the possibility of punitive damages in Chatham, 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 Chatham, New Jersey.
Punitive Damages in Chatham, New Jersey are only awarded in cases where the behavior of the plaintiff was intentional and highly immoral, or extremely reckless. In Chatham, 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.
It's necessary to know that punitive damages in Chatham, New Jersey 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.
In Chatham, 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 general 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 particular punitive damage award will depend heavily on the facts of each case.
How Can a Chatham, New Jersey Attorney Help?
In Chatham, New Jersey, there are a virtually unlimited number of situtations in which punitive damages can be awarded.
If you are engaged in a case in Chatham, New Jersey that you believe might entitle you to punitive damages, a lot of money could be at stake. Thus, if you want to pursue your legal remedies, you should see a Chatham, New Jersey civil litigation attorney as soon as possible.