Litigation Lawyers in Franklin Lakes
The civil litigation system in Franklin Lakes, 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 Franklin Lakes, 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 Franklin Lakes, New Jersey are not awarded easily, 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 Franklin Lakes, New Jersey
Generally personal injury cases in Franklin Lakes, 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 Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, this is not enough to justify the award of punitive damages.
In Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, punitive damages are not awarded in most cases. They are usually only awarded when the defendant's behavior was so reckless or deplorable that punishment of the defendant is warranted. Acts such as battery, fraud, and defamation (in some cases) are usually considered sufficient in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey to justify punitive damages. In deciding whether to award punitive damages, and how much to award, the two most important factors the court looks at will be the level of immorality of the act, as well as the actual harm that the plaintiff suffered as a result of the defendant's conduct.
It's essential to note that in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, punitive damages are not unlimited. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that punitive damages cannot be hugely disproportionate to the amount awarded to compensate the plaintiff for the actual injuries they suffered. If the punitive damages are extremely excessive, an appeals court might rule that they amount to a deprivation of property without due process of law, or a de facto criminal punishment, without affording the defendant the protections available in criminal cases.
In general, punitive damages in Franklin Lakes, 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 Franklin Lakes, New Jersey Attorney Help?
Franklin Lakes, New Jersey's courts have wide discretion in awarding punitive damages. Therefore, it is impractical to comprehensively discuss all the situations in which punitive damages can arise.
If you are immersed in a case in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey that you believe might entitle you to punitive damages, a lot of money could be at stake. Therefore, if you want to pursue your legal remedies, you should see a Franklin Lakes, New Jersey civil litigation attorney as soon as possible.