Litigation Lawyers in Newport
In Newport, Rhode Island, civil litigation is not meant to punish wrongdoers, at least that is not its primary purpose. Alternatively, it is designed to ensure that the victims of wrongdoing are given compensation for the harm they've suffered.
However, this general principle has a major exception. In rare cases, a Newport, Rhode Island judge or jury can award damages to the plaintiff that are not calculated by the actual losses suffered. Instead, they serve the purpose of punishing the defendant, and deterring others from wrongdoing. These are called "punitive damages."
You should be aware that courts in Newport, Rhode Island 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 Newport, Rhode Island
A majority of personal injury litigation actions in Newport, Rhode Island do not involve the possibility of punitive damages, because they typically involve injuries where the defendant is at fault for the harm caused, but did not intend to do any harm. In Newport, Rhode Island, accidental harm may be enough to award the plaintiff compensatory damages, but it is not enough for punitive damages.
In Newport, Rhode Island, punitive damages are not awarded in most cases. They are normally only awarded when the defendant's actions was so reckless or deplorable that punishment of the defendant is warranted. Acts such as battery, fraud, and defamation (in some cases) are usually considered sufficient in Newport, Rhode Island to justify punitive damages. In deciding whether to award punitive damages, and how much to award, the two most important factors the court looks at will be the level of immorality of the act, as well as the actual harm that the plaintiff suffered as a result of the defendant's conduct.
There are limits on punitive damages in Newport, Rhode Island. 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.
Punitive damages in Newport, Rhode Island typically cannot exceed 10 times the amount of actual damages suffered by the plaintiff. However, this is just a guideline, and not a strict rule. Courts in Rhode Island have found larger punitive damage awards to be perfectly valid, and smaller ones to be invalid. This will be highly dependent on the facts of each case.
How Can a Newport, Rhode Island Attorney Help?
In Newport, Rhode Island, 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 cases that can lead to a punitive damage award.
If you have been hurt in Newport, Rhode Island 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 Newport, Rhode Island.