Litigation Lawyers in Bennington
Civil litigation in Bennington, Vermont 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 Bennington, Vermont will award damages designed to punish the wrongdoer, and deter others from future wrongdoing. This practice is recognized as "punitive damages."
Courts in Bennington, Vermont 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 Bennington, Vermont
Personal injury litigation doesn't normally carry with it the possibility of punitive damages in Bennington, Vermont, 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 Bennington, Vermont.
In Bennington, Vermont, punitive damages are only awarded in extreme situations. Civil wrongs such as fraud, conversion (theft), battery, and other intentional, depraved acts are sufficient to award punitive damages. In deciding whether or not to award punitive damages, and how much money to award, courts in Bennington, Vermont will consider many different factors. Normally, they employ a sliding scale, weighing the nature of the conduct and the actual harm that the conduct caused. The more immoral the conduct, and/or the more harm caused, the more likely a court is to award punitive damages.
It's necessary to note that in Bennington, Vermont, punitive damages are not unlimited. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that punitive damages cannot be hugely disproportionate to the amount awarded to compensate the plaintiff for the actual injuries they suffered. If the punitive damages are extremely excessive, an appeals court might rule that they amount to a deprivation of property without due process of law, or a de facto criminal punishment, without affording the defendant the protections available in criminal cases.
In general, punitive damages in Bennington, Vermont 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 Vermont 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 Bennington, Vermont Attorney Help?
Bennington, Vermont's courts have wide discretion in awarding punitive damages. Accordingly, it is impractical to comprehensively discuss all the situations in which punitive damages can arise.
If you live in Bennington, Vermont 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 Bennington, Vermont.