Litigation Lawyers in Hot Springs
In Hot Springs, South Dakota, civil litigation is not meant to punish wrongdoers, at least that is not its primary 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 Hot Springs, South Dakota will order a defendant to pay the plaintiff damages which are not directly tied to any harm suffered 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 Hot Springs, South Dakota are not awarded lightly, 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 Hot Springs, South Dakota
Personal injury litigation doesn't normally carry with it the possibility of punitive damages in Hot Springs, South Dakota, because generally 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 Hot Springs, South Dakota.
Punitive damages in Hot Springs, South Dakota are not granted in many cases. They are only awarded when the defendant's actions was so deplorable and deliberate (but not necessarily criminal) that punishment is warranted. Fraud, battery, conversion (theft) and other intentional, insidious acts are usually required before punitive damages in Hot Springs, South Dakota will be considered. Additionally, in deciding how much to award in punitive damages, a court will consider 2 main factors: the insidious nature of the defendant's conduct, and the actual harm that the plaintiff suffered as a result.
However, in Hot Springs, South Dakota, the law places limits on punitive damages. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled many times that punitive damages cannot be grossly disproportionate to the evil nature of the conduct, and the injuries that the defendant suffered. If they are disproportionate, punitive damages might be considered a deprivation of the defendant's right to due process of law.
Punitive damages in Hot Springs, South Dakota normally 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 South Dakota 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 Hot Springs, South Dakota Attorney Help?
The law of Hot Springs, South Dakota doesn't lay out many strict conditions which are required before punitive damages can be granted. Instead, it largely leaves it to the discretion of the courts. So, there are many situations where they might be awarded.
If you are located in Hot Springs, South Dakota, and are immersed 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 Hot Springs, South Dakota civil litigation attorney