Litigation Lawyers in Dumfries
Civil litigation in Dumfries, Virginia is concerned almost exclusively with providing financial redress to the victims of wrongdoing. It is not concerned with meting out punishment or moral judgment upon the wrongdoers.
There is an exception to this general rule, however: in some cases, a court in Dumfries, Virginia will award damages designed to punish the wrongdoer, and deter others from future wrongdoing. This practice is recognized as "punitive damages."
In Dumfries, Virginia, 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 Dumfries, Virginia
Personal injury litigation doesn't normally carry with it the possibility of punitive damages in Dumfries, Virginia, 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 Dumfries, Virginia.
Punitive damages in Dumfries, Virginia are only awarded in the most extreme cases. Fraud, theft, assault, battery, and other intentional, immoral acts are grounds for punitive damages. Dumfries, Virginia courts will consider many factors in considering whether or not to award punitive damages. For example, the court might employ a sliding scale that weighs the immorality of the defendant's actions against the actual harm that it caused to the plaintiff, and calculate damages accordingly.
It's critical to know that punitive damages in Dumfries, Virginia 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 suffered by the plaintiff. Grossly excessive punitive damage awards are unconstitutional, the Supreme Court has held, because they amount to the government taking property from the defendant without due process of law.
Typically, in Dumfries, Virginia, punitive damage awards that exceed the actual damages (those awarded to directly compensate the plaintiff) by a factor of 10. This is not an absolute rule, however, and is applied on a case-by-case basis. Courts in Virginia have found much smaller awards to be invalid, and upheld much larger awards.
How Can a Dumfries, Virginia Attorney Help?
In Dumfries, Virginia, there are an essentially unlimited number of situtations in which punitive damages can be awarded.
If you live in Dumfries, Virginia and are immersed in a case that you believe carries the possibility of a punitive damage award, you may be entitled to a large amount of money from the person or company that harmed you. To know for sure, you should speak with a civil litigation attorney in Dumfries, Virginia.