Litigation Lawyers in Oak Ridge
In Oak Ridge, Tennessee, civil litigation is not meant to punish wrongdoers, at least that is not its primary 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 Oak Ridge, 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 Oak Ridge, 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 Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Personal injury litigation doesn't typically carry with it the possibility of punitive damages in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, 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 Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
Punitive damages in Oak Ridge, Tennessee are not granted in many cases. They are only awarded when the defendant's behavior 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 Oak Ridge, Tennessee will be considered. Moreover, 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 Oak Ridge, Tennessee, the law places limits on punitive damages. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled several 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.
In general, punitive damages in Oak Ridge, Tennessee cannot be more than 10 times larger than the actual damages suffered by the plaintiff. However, this is not an absolute rule, and appeals courts in Tennessee have upheld much larger awards, and found much smaller awards to be invalid. It's determined on a case-by-case basis.
How Can a Oak Ridge, Tennessee Attorney Help?
In Oak Ridge, Tennessee, 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 Oak Ridge, Tennessee that you believe might entitle you to punitive damages, a lot of money could be at stake. Thus, if you want to pursue your legal remedies, you should see an Oak Ridge, Tennessee civil litigation attorney as soon as possible.