Litigation Lawyers in Barnwell
In Barnwell, South Carolina, civil litigation is not meant to punish wrongdoers, at least that is not its main purpose. Alternatively, it is designed to ensure that the victims of wrongdoing are given compensation for the harm they've suffered.
Nonetheless, this general principle has a major exception. In rare cases, a Barnwell, South Carolina judge or jury can award damages to the plaintiff that are not calculated by the actual losses sustained. Instead, they serve the purpose of punishing the defendant, and deterring others from wrongdoing. These are called "punitive damages."
You should be cognizant that courts in Barnwell, South Carolina 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 Barnwell, South Carolina
A majority of personal injury litigation actions in Barnwell, South Carolina 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 Barnwell, South Carolina, accidental harm may be enough to award the plaintiff compensatory damages, but it is not enough for punitive damages.
In Barnwell, South Carolina, 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 Barnwell, South Carolina 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.
It's essential to know that punitive damages in Barnwell, South Carolina 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 sustained by the plaintiff. Grossly excessive punitive damage awards are unconstitutional, the Supreme Court has held, because they amount to the government acquiring property from the defendant without due process of law.
Punitive damages in Barnwell, South Carolina typically cannot surpass 10 times the amount of actual damages suffered by the plaintiff. Nonetheless, this is just a guideline, and not a strict rule. Courts in South Carolina have found larger punitive damage awards to be perfectly valid, and smaller ones to be invalid. This will be strongly dependent on the facts of each case.
How Can a Barnwell, South Carolina Attorney Help?
In Barnwell, South Carolina, there are a practically unlimited number of situtations in which punitive damages can be awarded.
If you are located in Barnwell, South Carolina, and are engaged 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 Barnwell, South Carolina civil litigation attorney