Litigation Lawyers in Southold

The civil litigation system in Southold, 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.

Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. In Southold, New York, courts will, in fairly rare cases, require defendants to pay plaintiffs sums of money which aren't calculated by the actual harm and costs the plaintiff has incurred. Instead, these "punitive damages," as they are called, are meant to punish and deter wrongdoing.

In Southold, New York, punitive damages are not awarded in many cases. This is because the civil litigation system highly disfavors giving money to plaintiffs in amounts disproportionate to the injuries they have suffered. Nonetheless, in some cases, the conduct of the defendant is so reprehensible, that simply punishing the defendant is a worthy goal, and this interest outweighs the preference against giving civil plaintiffs financial windfalls.

Conduct that can give rise to punitive damages in Southold, New York

The vast majority of personal injury lawsuits in Southold, New York involve situations in which the defendant did not intend to harm the plaintiff, but did so through carelessness. This is not enough to award punitive damages in Southold, New York.

Punitive Damages in Southold, New York are only awarded in cases where the conduct of the plaintiff was intentional and highly immoral, or extremely reckless. In Southold, 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 necessary to know that punitive damages in Southold, 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.

Generally, in Southold, New York, punitive damage awards that exceed the actual damages (those awarded to directly compensate the plaintiff) by a factor of 10. This is not an absolute rule, nonetheless, and is applied on a case-by-case basis. Courts in New York have found much smaller awards to be invalid, and upheld much larger awards.

How Can a Southold, New York Attorney Help?

In Southold, New York, judges and juries have a good deal of leeway in deciding if they want to grant punitive damages, so there are a nearly-unlimited number of circumstances that can lead to a punitive damage award.

If you are involved in a case in Southold, New York where punitive damages are a possibility, a very large amount of money could be at stake, whether you are the plaintiff or defendant. You should not delay to speak with a civil litigation attorney in Southold, New York