Litigation Lawyers in Englewood Cliffs
The civil litigation system in Englewood Cliffs, 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 Englewood Cliffs, 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 Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey are not awarded easily, because the civil justice system generally 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 Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey
Mostly personal injury cases in Englewood Cliffs, 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 Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, this is not enough to justify the award of punitive damages.
Punitive Damages in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey are only awarded in cases where the conduct of the plaintiff was intentional and highly immoral, or extremely reckless. In Englewood Cliffs, 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 Englewood Cliffs, 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 Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, punitive damage awards are typically (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 Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey Attorney Help?
In Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, there are a basically unlimited number of situtations in which punitive damages can be awarded.
If you have been injured in Englewood Cliffs, 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 Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.