Litigation Lawyers in Farmers Branch
In Farmers Branch, Texas, 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 Farmers Branch, Texas 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.
You should be aware that courts in Farmers Branch, Texas are not particularly fond of granting 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 Farmers Branch, Texas
Personal injury litigation doesn't normally carry with it the possibility of punitive damages in Farmers Branch, Texas, 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 Farmers Branch, Texas.
Punitive Damages in Farmers Branch, Texas are only awarded in cases where the actions of the plaintiff was intentional and highly immoral, or extremely reckless. In Farmers Branch, 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.
However, in Farmers Branch, Texas, 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 Farmers Branch, Texas, punitive damage awards are usually (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 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 particular punitive damage award will depend heavily on the facts of each case.
How Can a Farmers Branch, Texas Attorney Help?
In Farmers Branch, Texas, there are a large number of cases in which punitive damages are appropriate, because the decision to grant punitive damages is largely up to the discretion of the jury.
If you are immersed in a case in Farmers Branch, Texas 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 Farmers Branch, Texas