Litigation Lawyers in Dallastown
In Dallastown, Pennsylvania, 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 Dallastown, Pennsylvania will award damages designed to punish the wrongdoer, and deter others from future wrongdoing. This practice is known as "punitive damages."
You should be aware that courts in Dallastown, 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 Dallastown, Pennsylvania
Personal injury litigation doesn't usually carry with it the possibility of punitive damages in Dallastown, Pennsylvania, because mostly 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 Dallastown, Pennsylvania.
Punitive damages in Dallastown, Pennsylvania are only awarded in the most extreme cases. Fraud, theft, assault, battery, and other intentional, immoral acts are grounds for punitive damages. Dallastown, Pennsylvania 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.
It's necessary to note that in Dallastown, Pennsylvania, punitive damages are not unlimited. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that punitive damages cannot be hugely disproportionate to the amount awarded to compensate the plaintiff for the actual injuries they suffered. If the punitive damages are extremely excessive, an appeals court might rule that they amount to a deprivation of property without due process of law, or a de facto criminal punishment, without affording the defendant the protections available in criminal cases.
Generally, in Dallastown, Pennsylvania, punitive damage awards that exceed the actual damages (those awarded to directly compensate the plaintiff) by a factor of 10. This is not an absolute rule, however, and is applied on a case-by-case basis. Courts in Pennsylvania have found much smaller awards to be invalid, and upheld much larger awards.
How Can a Dallastown, Pennsylvania Attorney Help?
In Dallastown, Pennsylvania, judges and juries have a good deal of leeway in deciding if they want to grant punitive damages, so there are a nearly-unlimited number of circumstances that can lead to a punitive damage award.
If you are involved in a case in Dallastown, Pennsylvania that you believe might entitle you to punitive damages, a lot of money could be at stake. So, if you want to pursue your legal remedies, you should see a Dallastown, Pennsylvania civil litigation attorney as soon as possible.