Litigation Lawyers in Philomath
In Philomath, Oregon, civil litigation is not meant to punish wrongdoers, at least that is not its main purpose. Alternatively, 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 Philomath, Oregon will award damages designed to punish the wrongdoer, and deter others from future wrongdoing. This practice is identified as "punitive damages."
Courts in Philomath, Oregon do not authorize punitive damages in most cases. The civil litigation system is geared against authorizing 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 comparable misconduct outweighs the civil justice system's preference against punitive damages.
Conduct that can give rise to punitive damages in Philomath, Oregon
Typically personal injury cases in Philomath, Oregon do not involve punitive damages, because the defendant did not intend to cause harm, or act with some other form of malice. Alternatively, 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 Philomath, Oregon.
In Philomath, Oregon, punitive damages are only awarded in extreme cases. Civil wrongs such as fraud, conversion (theft), battery, and other intentional, depraved acts are sufficient to award punitive damages. In deciding whether or not to award punitive damages, and how much money to award, courts in Philomath, Oregon will consider many different factors. Typically, they employ a sliding scale, weighing the nature of the conduct and the actual harm that the conduct caused. The more immoral the conduct, and/or the more harm caused, the more likely a court is to award punitive damages.
You should be cognizant of the fact that there are some pretty severe limits on punitive damages in Philomath, Oregon. The U.S. Supreme Court has found that there are constitutional limits on punitive damage awards. Punitive damages can't be too disproportionate to the actual damages that the plaintiff has suffered. Appeals courts have found that excessive punitive damage awards violate the defendant's right to due process, by depriving them of considerable amounts of property.
Punitive damages in Philomath, Oregon typically cannot surpass 10 times the amount of actual damages suffered by the plaintiff. Nonetheless, this is just a guideline, and not a strict rule. Courts in Oregon have found larger punitive damage awards to be perfectly valid, and smaller ones to be invalid. This will be strongly dependent on the facts of each case.
How Can a Philomath, Oregon Attorney Help?
The law of Philomath, Oregon doesn't lay out many strict conditions which are necessary before punitive damages can be authorized. Instead, it largely leaves it to the discretion of the courts. So, there are various situations where they might be awarded.
If you are engaged in a case in Philomath, 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 delay to speak with a civil litigation attorney in Philomath, Oregon