Litigation Lawyers in Clayton
The civil litigation system in Clayton, Ohio 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 Clayton, Ohio, 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. Rather, these "punitive damages," as they are called, are meant to punish and deter wrongdoing.
In Clayton, Ohio, 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 Clayton, Ohio
Personal injury litigation doesn't normally carry with it the possibility of punitive damages in Clayton, Ohio, because generally personal injury cases stem from harm that was caused accidentally, not deliberately. Accidental harm is not enough to warrant an award of punitive damages in Clayton, Ohio.
Punitive Damages in Clayton, Ohio are only awarded in cases where the actions of the plaintiff was intentional and highly immoral, or extremely reckless. In Clayton, Ohio, 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 Clayton, Ohio 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 Clayton, Ohio 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 Ohio 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 Clayton, Ohio Attorney Help?
In Clayton, Ohio, 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 situations that can lead to a punitive damage award.
If you have been harmed in Clayton, Ohio 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 Clayton, Ohio.