Litigation Lawyers in East Orange
The civil litigation system in East Orange, 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 East Orange, 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 East Orange, 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 East Orange, New Jersey
Typically personal injury cases in East Orange, 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 East Orange, New Jersey, this is not enough to justify the award of punitive damages.
Punitive Damages in East Orange, New Jersey are only awarded in cases where the behavior of the plaintiff was intentional and highly immoral, or extremely reckless. In East Orange, 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 critical to know that punitive damages in East Orange, 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 sustained by the plaintiff. Grossly excessive punitive damage awards are unconstitutional, the Supreme Court has held, because they amount to the government acquiring property from the defendant without due process of law.
In general, punitive damages in East Orange, 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 East Orange, New Jersey Attorney Help?
In East Orange, 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 have been hurt in East Orange, New Jersey and you think punitive damages might be justified, a large amount of money might be at stake. For that reason, you should not delay to consult a civil litigation attorney in East Orange, New Jersey.