Litigation Lawyers in Ellwood City
In Ellwood City, 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 Ellwood City, 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 Ellwood City, 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 Ellwood City, Pennsylvania
Personal injury litigation doesn't usually carry with it the possibility of punitive damages in Ellwood City, 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 Ellwood City, Pennsylvania.
Punitive Damages in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania are only awarded in cases where the conduct of the plaintiff was intentional and highly immoral, or extremely reckless. In Ellwood City, 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.
However, in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, 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.
A good rule of thumb for calculating the upper limit of punitive damages in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania is that punitive damages can be no larger than compensatory damages times ten. This rule is not absolute, of course. Courts in Pennsylvania have a good deal of discretion in awarding punitive damages, and will determine them based on the facts of each case. Because of this, punitive damage awards larger than 10 times compensatory damages are sometimes upheld, while much smaller awards have been overturned, because they were deemed excessive in a particular case.
How Can a Ellwood City, Pennsylvania Attorney Help?
In Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, there are an essentially unlimited number of situtations in which punitive damages can be awarded.
If you have been injured in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania and you think punitive damages might be justified, a large amount of money might be at stake. For that reason, you should not hesitate to consult a civil litigation attorney in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania.