Litigation Lawyers in Purcellville
Civil litigation in Purcellville, 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 Purcellville, Virginia will award damages designed to punish the wrongdoer, and deter others from future wrongdoing. This practice is known as "punitive damages."
Courts in Purcellville, Virginia do not grant punitive damages in most cases. The civil litigation system is geared against granting financial windfalls to civil plaintiffs. But, there are rare cases, where the defendant has done something to the plaintiff that is so morally reprehensible, that society's interest in punishing the defendant and deterring similar misconduct outweighs the civil justice system's preference against punitive damages.
Conduct that can give rise to punitive damages in Purcellville, Virginia
Mostly personal injury cases in Purcellville, Virginia involve injuries that the defendant did not intend to cause, but was still at fault in causing them (through negligence, for example). In Purcellville, Virginia, this is not enough to justify the award of punitive damages.
Punitive damages in Purcellville, Virginia are only awarded in the most extreme cases. Fraud, theft, assault, battery, and other intentional, immoral acts are grounds for punitive damages. Purcellville, Virginia courts will consider several 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 conduct against the actual harm that it caused to the plaintiff, and calculate damages accordingly.
It's important to know that punitive damages in Purcellville, 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.
Generally, in Purcellville, 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 Purcellville, Virginia Attorney Help?
In Purcellville, Virginia, 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 circumstances that can lead to a punitive damage award.
If you are involved in a case in Purcellville, Virginia that you believe might entitle you to punitive damages, a lot of money could be at stake. So, if you want to pursue your legal remedies, you should see a Purcellville, Virginia civil litigation attorney as soon as possible.