Litigation Lawyers in Fredonia
The civil litigation system in Fredonia, New York 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 Fredonia, New York 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.
You should be cognizant that courts in Fredonia, New York are not especially fond of authorizing punitive damages, because they view it as a financial windfall that generally runs counter to civil litigation's primary purpose of compensating victims of wrongdoing for the harm they've suffered. However, if the conduct of the defendant was completely reprehensible and the harm caused was deliberate, a court might impose damages to punish the defendant, known as "punitive damages."
Conduct that can give rise to punitive damages in Fredonia, New York
Generally personal injury cases in Fredonia, New York involve injuries that the defendant did not intend to cause, but was still at fault in causing them (through negligence, for instance). In Fredonia, New York, this is not enough to justify the award of punitive damages.
Punitive Damages in Fredonia, New York are only awarded in cases where the actions of the plaintiff was intentional and highly immoral, or extremely reckless. In Fredonia, New York, 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 Fredonia, New York 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 Fredonia, New York 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 York 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 Fredonia, New York Attorney Help?
In Fredonia, New York, 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 immersed in a case in Fredonia, New York 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 Fredonia, New York civil litigation attorney as soon as possible.