Litigation Lawyers in Bonham
In Bonham, Texas, 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 Bonham, Texas 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.
You should be cognizant that courts in Bonham, Texas are not especially fond of authorizing punitive damages, because they view it as a financial windfall that generally runs counter to civil litigation's primary purpose of compensating victims of wrongdoing for the harm they've suffered. However, if the conduct of the defendant was completely reprehensible and the harm caused was deliberate, a court might impose damages to punish the defendant, known as "punitive damages."
Conduct that can give rise to punitive damages in Bonham, Texas
The vast majority of personal injury lawsuits in Bonham, Texas involve cases in which the defendant did not intend to harm the plaintiff, but did so through carelessness. This is not enough to award punitive damages in Bonham, Texas.
Punitive Damages in Bonham, Texas are only awarded in cases where the behavior of the plaintiff was intentional and highly immoral, or extremely reckless. In Bonham, Texas, 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 crucial to know that punitive damages in Bonham, Texas 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.
In Bonham, Texas, punitive damage awards are normally (but not always) capped at 10 times the amount awarded in compensatory damages. Remember, however, that this is just a basic rule of thumb, and is not completely rigid. In Texas, 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 specific punitive damage award will depend heavily on the facts of each case.
How Can a Bonham, Texas Attorney Help?
Bonham, Texas's courts have wide discretion in awarding punitive damages. Therefore, it is unrealistic to comprehensively discuss all the situations in which punitive damages can arise.
If you are engaged in a case in Bonham, Texas 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 a Bonham, Texas civil litigation attorney as soon as possible.