Litigation Lawyers in Martins Ferry
The civil litigation system in Martins Ferry, 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 Martins Ferry, 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.
It's critical to note that courts in Martins Ferry, Ohio prefer not to grant punitive damages. This is because the civil justice system is designed mainly to compensate the victims of wrongdoing. Nonetheless, there are some cases where the defendant's conduct was so immoral and evil that civil courts have an interest in making them pay further damages, going above and beyond what's needed to compensate the victim, in order to serve as a deterrent.
Conduct that can give rise to punitive damages in Martins Ferry, Ohio
Generally personal injury cases in Martins Ferry, Ohio involve injuries that the defendant did not intend to cause, but was still at fault in causing them (through negligence, for instance). In Martins Ferry, Ohio, this is not enough to justify the award of punitive damages.
Punitive Damages in Martins Ferry, Ohio are only awarded in cases where the actions of the plaintiff was intentional and highly immoral, or extremely reckless. In Martins Ferry, 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.
There are limits on punitive damages in Martins Ferry, Ohio. The Supreme Court has held that punitive damage awards which are grossly disproportionate to the immorality of the conduct, and the harm that it caused, are an unconstitutional deprivation of property without due process of law.
A good rule of thumb for calculating the upper limit of punitive damages in Martins Ferry, Ohio is that punitive damages can be no larger than compensatory damages times ten. This rule is not absolute, of course. Courts in Ohio have a good deal of discretion in awarding punitive damages, and will decide them based on the facts of each case. Because of this, punitive damage awards larger than 10 times compensatory damages are occasionally upheld, while much smaller awards have been overturned, because they were deemed excessive in a certain case.
How Can a Martins Ferry, Ohio Attorney Help?
Martins Ferry, Ohio'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 located in Martins Ferry, Ohio, and are immersed in a case that you think, based on the information conveyed above, that might have punitive damages as an option, you can't be sure what, if anything, you're entitled to from the defendant until you consult with a Martins Ferry, Ohio civil litigation attorney