Litigation Lawyers in Chesterbrook
In Chesterbrook, Pennsylvania, civil litigation is not meant to punish wrongdoers, at least that is not its primary 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 general rule, however: in some cases, a court in Chesterbrook, 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 aware that courts in Chesterbrook, Pennsylvania are not particularly fond of granting 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 Chesterbrook, Pennsylvania
A majority of personal injury litigation actions in Chesterbrook, Pennsylvania do not involve the possibility of punitive damages, because they normally involve injuries where the defendant is at fault for the harm caused, but did not intend to do any harm. In Chesterbrook, Pennsylvania, accidental harm may be enough to award the plaintiff compensatory damages, but it is not enough for punitive damages.
In Chesterbrook, Pennsylvania, punitive damages are only awarded in extreme situations. 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 Chesterbrook, Pennsylvania will consider many different factors. Normally, 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.
It's important to know that punitive damages in Chesterbrook, Pennsylvania are subject to limits. The Supreme Court of the United States has held, more than once, that punitive damages can't be grossly disproportionate to the actual harm suffered by the plaintiff. Grossly excessive punitive damage awards are unconstitutional, the Supreme Court has held, because they amount to the government taking property from the defendant without due process of law.
In general, punitive damages in Chesterbrook, Pennsylvania cannot be more than 10 times larger than the actual damages suffered by the plaintiff. However, this is not an absolute rule, and appeals courts in Pennsylvania have upheld much larger awards, and found much smaller awards to be invalid. It's determined on a case-by-case basis.
How Can a Chesterbrook, Pennsylvania Attorney Help?
Chesterbrook, Pennsylvania's courts have wide discretion in awarding punitive damages. Accordingly, it is impractical to comprehensively discuss all the situations in which punitive damages can arise.
If you are located in Chesterbrook, Pennsylvania, 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 Chesterbrook, Pennsylvania civil litigation attorney