Suing for Punitive Damages in Charleston

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Litigation Lawyers in Charleston

In Charleston, 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 Charleston, 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 Charleston, 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 Charleston, South Carolina

Personal injury litigation doesn't typically carry with it the possibility of punitive damages in Charleston, South Carolina, because typically 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 Charleston, South Carolina.

Punitive damages in Charleston, South Carolina are only awarded in the most extreme cases. Fraud, theft, assault, battery, and other intentional, immoral acts are grounds for punitive damages. Charleston, South Carolina courts will consider various factors in considering whether or not to award punitive damages. For instance, the court might employ a sliding scale that weighs the immorality of the defendant's behavior against the actual harm that it caused to the plaintiff, and calculate damages accordingly.

It's necessary to note that in Charleston, South Carolina, 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.

A good rule of thumb for calculating the upper limit of punitive damages in Charleston, South Carolina is that punitive damages can be no larger than compensatory damages times ten. This rule is not absolute, of course. Courts in South Carolina have a good deal of discretion in awarding punitive damages, and will decide them based on the facts of each case. Because of this, punitive damage awards larger than 10 times compensatory damages are occasionally upheld, while much smaller awards have been overturned, because they were deemed excessive in a certain case.

How Can a Charleston, South Carolina Attorney Help?

In Charleston, South Carolina, there are a basically unlimited number of situtations in which punitive damages can be awarded.

If you have been hurt in Charleston, South Carolina and you think punitive damages might be justified, a large amount of money might be at stake. For that reason, you should not delay to consult a civil litigation attorney in Charleston, South Carolina.

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Life in Charleston

Charleston, South Carolina is an important port city located in Charleston County. It is nicknamed the "Holy City" due to the large number of churches that mark the city's skyline. As a port city, trade is central to the city, as a number of ships and boats launch regularly from Charleston.

Charleston is unique among cities that showcase a Southern culture. In general, Charleston's community culture is a rich blend of French, English, West African, and southern American elements. Particularly, the "Charleston dialect" is a rare dialect featuring distinct phrases and is not comparable to other dialects in the Southern U.S.

Charleston, South Carolina draws many visitors every year when it holds its annual Spoleto Festival USA. The Spoleto Festival is an art festival lasting 17 days and featuring more than 100 performances by artists practicing in different disciplines. The event is an internationally recognized festival and is considered to be the premier performing arts festival of the U.S. Other notable Charleston attractions include live music at the Music Farm, and the Citadel a famous military college. Many Charleston lawyers studied at Charleston School of Law.

Lawyers in Charleston, South Carolina are available to assist persons who may have differing legal needs. Charleston is the first city in the United States to institute a "Livability Court", which is a municipal court that focuses on legal cases involving housing, animal control, tourism, traffic, the environment, waste, and compliance with city zoning codes.

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