Litigation Lawyers in Mount Pleasant
In Mount Pleasant, 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.
There is a major exception to this rule, however. In limited cases, courts in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina will order a defendant to pay the plaintiff damages which are not directly tied to any harm sustained by the plaintiff. Rather, these damages, which are known as "punitive damages", are meant to punish the wrongdoer, and serve as a deterrent.
Punitive Damages in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina are not awarded easily, because the civil justice system usually disfavors giving plaintiffs financial windfalls not directly related to compensating them for their injuries. They are usually only awarded when the conduct of the defendant is morally reprehensible, and far worse than simple carelessness.
Conduct that can give rise to punitive damages in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
Typically personal injury cases in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina involve injuries that the defendant did not intend to cause, but was still at fault in causing them (through negligence, for instance). In Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, this is not enough to justify the award of punitive damages.
Punitive Damages in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina are only awarded in cases where the behavior of the plaintiff was intentional and highly immoral, or extremely reckless. In Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, 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.
It's essential to know that punitive damages in Mount Pleasant, 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.
Usually, in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, 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, nonetheless, and is applied on a case-by-case basis. Courts in South Carolina have found much smaller awards to be invalid, and upheld much larger awards.
How Can a Mount Pleasant, South Carolina Attorney Help?
In Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, 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 are engaged in a case in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina where punitive damages are a possibility, a very large amount of money could be at stake, whether you are the plaintiff or defendant. You should not delay to speak with a civil litigation attorney in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina