Litigation Lawyers in Cranford
The civil litigation system in Cranford, 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.
This basic principle is subject to an significant exception, however. There are cases where a judge in Cranford, 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 Cranford, New Jersey are not awarded easily, because the civil justice system usually 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 Cranford, New Jersey
Typically personal injury cases in Cranford, New Jersey involve injuries that the defendant did not intend to cause, but was still at fault in causing them (through negligence, for instance). In Cranford, New Jersey, this is not enough to justify the award of punitive damages.
Punitive Damages in Cranford, New Jersey are only awarded in cases where the behavior of the plaintiff was intentional and highly immoral, or extremely reckless. In Cranford, 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.
You should be cognizant of the fact that there are some pretty severe limits on punitive damages in Cranford, New Jersey. 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 considerable amounts of property.
In general, punitive damages in Cranford, New Jersey cannot be more than 10 times larger than the actual damages sustained by the plaintiff. Nonetheless, this is not an absolute rule, and appeals courts in New Jersey have upheld much larger awards, and found much smaller awards to be invalid. It's decided on a case-by-case basis.
How Can a Cranford, New Jersey Attorney Help?
In Cranford, New Jersey, there are a large variety of situations in which punitive damages are appropriate, because the decision to grant punitive damages is largely up to the discretion of the jury.
If you are engaged in a case in Cranford, 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 Cranford, New Jersey civil litigation attorney as soon as possible.