Litigation Lawyers in North Myrtle Beach
In North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, civil litigation is not meant to punish wrongdoers, at least that is not its main purpose. Instead, 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 situations, courts in North Myrtle Beach, 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 North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina are not awarded easily, because the civil justice system typically 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 North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Generally personal injury cases in North Myrtle Beach, 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 North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, this is not enough to justify the award of punitive damages.
In North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, punitive damages are not awarded in most cases. They are usually only awarded when the defendant's behavior 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 North Myrtle Beach, 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.
There are limits on punitive damages in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. 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 North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina normally 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 North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Attorney Help?
In North Myrtle Beach, 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 situations that can lead to a punitive damage award.
If you are immersed in a case in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina that you believe might entitle you to punitive damages, a lot of money could be at stake. Therefore, if you want to pursue your legal remedies, you should see a North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina civil litigation attorney as soon as possible.