Litigation Lawyers in Altoona
In Altoona, Pennsylvania, 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 Altoona, Pennsylvania will award damages designed to punish the wrongdoer, and deter others from future wrongdoing. This practice is recognized as "punitive damages."
You should be cognizant that courts in Altoona, Pennsylvania are not especially fond of authorizing punitive damages, because they view it as a financial windfall that generally runs counter to civil litigation's primary purpose of compensating victims of wrongdoing for the harm they've suffered. However, if the conduct of the defendant was completely reprehensible and the harm caused was deliberate, a court might impose damages to punish the defendant, known as "punitive damages."
Conduct that can give rise to punitive damages in Altoona, Pennsylvania
Generally personal injury cases in Altoona, Pennsylvania involve injuries that the defendant did not intend to cause, but was still at fault in causing them (through negligence, for instance). In Altoona, Pennsylvania, this is not enough to justify the award of punitive damages.
Punitive Damages in Altoona, Pennsylvania are only awarded in cases where the actions of the plaintiff was intentional and highly immoral, or extremely reckless. In Altoona, Pennsylvania, 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 Altoona, Pennsylvania. 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.
In Altoona, Pennsylvania, 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 Pennsylvania, 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 Altoona, Pennsylvania Attorney Help?
Altoona, Pennsylvania'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 immersed in a case in Altoona, Pennsylvania 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 Altoona, Pennsylvania