Litigation Lawyers in Ferndale
Civil litigation in Ferndale, Washington is concerned almost always with extending 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 basic rule, however: in certain cases, a court in Ferndale, Washington will award damages designed to punish the wrongdoer, and deter others from future wrongdoing. This practice is known as "punitive damages."
It's necessary to note that courts in Ferndale, Washington prefer not to grant punitive damages. This is because the civil justice system is designed mainly to compensate the victims of wrongdoing. Nonetheless, there are some cases where the defendant's conduct was so immoral and evil that civil courts have an interest in making them pay further damages, going above and beyond what's needed to compensate the victim, in order to serve as a deterrent.
Conduct that can give rise to punitive damages in Ferndale, Washington
Mostly personal injury cases in Ferndale, Washington involve injuries that the defendant did not intend to cause, but was still at fault in causing them (through negligence, for instance). In Ferndale, Washington, this is not enough to justify the award of punitive damages.
Punitive Damages in Ferndale, Washington are only awarded in cases where the conduct of the plaintiff was intentional and highly immoral, or extremely reckless. In Ferndale, Washington, 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 necessary to know that punitive damages in Ferndale, Washington 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.
Generally, in Ferndale, Washington, 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, nonetheless, and is applied on a case-by-case basis. Courts in Washington have found much smaller awards to be invalid, and upheld much larger awards.
How Can a Ferndale, Washington Attorney Help?
In Ferndale, Washington, there are a basically unlimited number of situtations in which punitive damages can be awarded.
If you are located in Ferndale, Washington, and are involved in a case that you think, based on the information conveyed above, that might have punitive damages as an option, you can't be sure what, if anything, you're entitled to from the defendant until you consult with a Ferndale, Washington civil litigation attorney