Litigation Lawyers in Gresham
In Gresham, Oregon, civil litigation is not meant to punish wrongdoers, at least that is not its primary purpose. Rather, 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 general rule, however: in some cases, a court in Gresham, Oregon will award damages designed to punish the wrongdoer, and deter others from future wrongdoing. This practice is known as "punitive damages."
Courts in Gresham, Oregon do not grant punitive damages in most cases. The civil litigation system is geared against granting financial windfalls to civil plaintiffs. But, there are rare cases, where the defendant has done something to the plaintiff that is so morally reprehensible, that society's interest in punishing the defendant and deterring similar misconduct outweighs the civil justice system's preference against punitive damages.
Conduct that can give rise to punitive damages in Gresham, Oregon
Mostly personal injury cases in Gresham, Oregon do not involve punitive damages, because the defendant did not intend to cause harm, or act with some other form of malice. Instead, most of these cases involve situations where the defendant acted carelessly, but did not actually intend to cause harm. This is enough to award compensatory damages, but it is far from sufficient to award punitive damages in Gresham, Oregon.
Punitive damages in Gresham, Oregon are only awarded in the most extreme cases. Fraud, theft, assault, battery, and other intentional, immoral acts are grounds for punitive damages. Gresham, Oregon courts will consider several factors in considering whether or not to award punitive damages. For example, the court might employ a sliding scale that weighs the immorality of the defendant's conduct against the actual harm that it caused to the plaintiff, and calculate damages accordingly.
However, in Gresham, Oregon, the law places limits on punitive damages. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled several 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 Gresham, Oregon, punitive damage awards are typically (but not always) capped at 10 times the amount awarded in compensatory damages. Remember, however, that this is just a general rule of thumb, and is not completely rigid. In Oregon, 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 particular punitive damage award will depend heavily on the facts of each case.
How Can a Gresham, Oregon Attorney Help?
The law of Gresham, Oregon doesn't lay out many strict conditions which are required before punitive damages can be granted. Instead, it largely leaves it to the discretion of the courts. So, there are several situations where they might be awarded.
If you are involved in a case in Gresham, Oregon 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 hesitate to speak with a civil litigation attorney in Gresham, Oregon