Litigation Lawyers in Collingswood
The civil litigation system in Collingswood, 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.
This general principle is subject to an important exception, however. There are cases where a judge in Collingswood, New Jersey will order a defendant to pay the plaintiff a sum of money which is not calculated based on actual harm the plaintiff has suffered. These are called "punitive damages" and serve the purpose of punishing and deterring wrongdoing.
Punitive Damages in Collingswood, New Jersey are not awarded lightly, because the civil justice system typically 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 Collingswood, New Jersey
Generally personal injury cases in Collingswood, New Jersey involve injuries that the defendant did not intend to cause, but was still at fault in causing them (through negligence, for example). In Collingswood, New Jersey, this is not enough to justify the award of punitive damages.
Punitive Damages in Collingswood, New Jersey are only awarded in cases where the actions of the plaintiff was intentional and highly immoral, or extremely reckless. In Collingswood, 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 Collingswood, 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.
A good rule of thumb for calculating the upper limit of punitive damages in Collingswood, New Jersey is that punitive damages can be no larger than compensatory damages times ten. This rule is not absolute, of course. Courts in New Jersey 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 Collingswood, New Jersey Attorney Help?
Collingswood, New Jersey'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 located in Collingswood, New Jersey, and are immersed in a case that you think, based on the information conveyed above, that might have punitive damages as an option, you can't be sure what, if anything, you're entitled to from the defendant until you consult with a Collingswood, New Jersey civil litigation attorney