Litigation Lawyers in Nashville
In Nashville, Tennessee, civil litigation is not meant to punish wrongdoers, at least that is not its primary purpose. Rather, 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 circumstances, courts in Nashville, Tennessee 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.
In Nashville, Tennessee, punitive damages are not awarded in many cases. This is because the civil litigation system strongly disfavors giving money to plaintiffs in amounts disproportionate to the injuries they have suffered. However, in some cases, the conduct of the defendant is so reprehensible, that simply punishing the defendant is a worthy goal, and this interest outweighs the preference against giving civil plaintiffs financial windfalls.
Conduct that can give rise to punitive damages in Nashville, Tennessee
Personal injury litigation doesn't usually carry with it the possibility of punitive damages in Nashville, Tennessee, because mostly 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 Nashville, Tennessee.
Punitive damages in Nashville, Tennessee are not granted in many cases. They are only awarded when the defendant's conduct 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 Nashville, Tennessee will be considered. Furthermore, 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.
There are limits on punitive damages in Nashville, Tennessee. 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.
In Nashville, Tennessee, punitive damage awards are typically (but not always) capped at 10 times the amount awarded in compensatory damages. Remember, however, that this is just a general rule of thumb, and is not completely rigid. In Tennessee, appeals courts have a good deal of discretion in deciding if a punitive damage award is valid or invalid. Much larger awards have been upheld, and smaller awards have been overturned. The validity of a particular punitive damage award will depend heavily on the facts of each case.
How Can a Nashville, Tennessee Attorney Help?
Nashville, Tennessee's courts have wide discretion in awarding punitive damages. Accordingly, it is impossible to comprehensively discuss all the situations in which punitive damages can arise.
If you are involved in a case in Nashville, Tennessee 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 hesitate to speak with a civil litigation attorney in Nashville, Tennessee