Litigation Lawyers in Lake Forest Park
Civil litigation in Lake Forest Park, Washington 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 Lake Forest Park, Washington will award damages designed to punish the wrongdoer, and deter others from future wrongdoing. This practice is recognized as "punitive damages."
It's crucial to note that courts in Lake Forest Park, Washington prefer not to grant punitive damages. This is because the civil justice system is designed primarily to compensate the victims of wrongdoing. However, there are some cases where the defendant's conduct was so immoral and evil that civil courts have an interest in making them pay additional 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 Lake Forest Park, Washington
Generally personal injury cases in Lake Forest Park, Washington involve injuries that the defendant did not intend to cause, but was still at fault in causing them (through negligence, for example). In Lake Forest Park, Washington, this is not enough to justify the award of punitive damages.
Punitive damages in Lake Forest Park, Washington are not granted in many cases. They are only awarded when the defendant's actions was so deplorable and deliberate (but not necessarily criminal) that punishment is warranted. Fraud, battery, conversion (theft) and other intentional, insidious acts are usually required before punitive damages in Lake Forest Park, Washington will be considered. Additionally, in deciding how much to award in punitive damages, a court will consider 2 main factors: the insidious nature of the defendant's conduct, and the actual harm that the plaintiff suffered as a result.
You should be aware of the fact that there are some pretty severe limits on punitive damages in Lake Forest Park, Washington. The U.S. Supreme Court has found that there are constitutional limits on punitive damage awards. Punitive damages can't be too disproportionate to the actual damages that the plaintiff has suffered. Appeals courts have found that excessive punitive damage awards violate the defendant's right to due process, by depriving them of massive amounts of property.
Punitive damages in Lake Forest Park, Washington normally cannot exceed 10 times the amount of actual damages suffered by the plaintiff. However, this is just a guideline, and not a strict rule. Courts in Washington have found larger punitive damage awards to be perfectly valid, and smaller ones to be invalid. This will be highly dependent on the facts of each case.
How Can a Lake Forest Park, Washington Attorney Help?
Lake Forest Park, Washington'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 are located in Lake Forest Park, Washington, and are immersed 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 Lake Forest Park, Washington civil litigation attorney