Litigation Lawyers in Selah

Civil litigation in Selah, 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 Selah, Washington will award damages designed to punish the wrongdoer, and deter others from future wrongdoing. This practice is known as "punitive damages."

It's crucial to note that courts in Selah, 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 Selah, Washington

A majority of personal injury litigation actions in Selah, Washington do not involve the possibility of punitive damages, because they usually involve injuries where the defendant is at fault for the harm caused, but did not intend to do any harm. In Selah, Washington, accidental harm may be enough to award the plaintiff compensatory damages, but it is not enough for punitive damages.

Punitive damages in Selah, Washington are not authorized in many cases. They are only awarded when the defendant's conduct 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 Selah, Washington will be considered. Furthermore, 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.

Nonetheless, in Selah, Washington, the law places limits on punitive damages. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled numerous times that punitive damages cannot be grossly disproportionate to the evil nature of the conduct, and the injuries that the defendant suffered. If they are disproportionate, punitive damages might be considered a deprivation of the defendant's right to due process of law.

Punitive damages in Selah, Washington usually cannot surpass 10 times the amount of actual damages suffered by the plaintiff. Nonetheless, 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 strongly dependent on the facts of each case.

How Can a Selah, Washington Attorney Help?

The law of Selah, Washington doesn't lay out many strict conditions which are necessary before punitive damages can be authorized. Instead, it largely leaves it to the discretion of the courts. So, there are numerous situations where they might be awarded.

If you are located in Selah, 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 Selah, Washington civil litigation attorney