Litigation Lawyers in Altus
In Altus, Oklahoma, civil litigation is not meant to punish wrongdoers, at least that is not its main purpose. Instead, it is designed to ensure that the victims of wrongdoing are given compensation for the harm they've suffered.
There is an exception to this basic rule, however: in certain cases, a court in Altus, Oklahoma will award damages designed to punish the wrongdoer, and deter others from future wrongdoing. This practice is recognized as "punitive damages."
In Altus, Oklahoma, 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 Altus, Oklahoma
Personal injury litigation doesn't normally carry with it the possibility of punitive damages in Altus, Oklahoma, 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 Altus, Oklahoma.
Punitive Damages in Altus, Oklahoma are only awarded in cases where the actions of the plaintiff was intentional and highly immoral, or extremely reckless. In Altus, Oklahoma, 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.
Nonetheless, in Altus, Oklahoma, the law places limits on punitive damages. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled numerous times that punitive damages cannot be grossly disproportionate to the evil nature of the conduct, and the injuries that the defendant suffered. If they are disproportionate, punitive damages might be considered a deprivation of the defendant's right to due process of law.
In Altus, Oklahoma, punitive damage awards are usually (but not always) capped at 10 times the amount awarded in compensatory damages. Remember, however, that this is just a basic rule of thumb, and is not completely rigid. In Oklahoma, appeals courts have a good deal of discretion in deciding if a punitive damage award is valid or invalid. Much larger awards have been upheld, and smaller awards have been overturned. The validity of a specific punitive damage award will depend heavily on the facts of each case.
How Can a Altus, Oklahoma Attorney Help?
In Altus, Oklahoma, there are a basically unlimited number of situtations in which punitive damages can be awarded.
If you are immersed in a case in Altus, Oklahoma 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 an Altus, Oklahoma civil litigation attorney as soon as possible.