Litigation Lawyers in Jefferson
Civil litigation in Jefferson, Wisconsin 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.
However, this general principle has a major exception. In rare cases, a Jefferson, Wisconsin judge or jury can award damages to the plaintiff that are not calculated by the actual losses suffered. Instead, they serve the purpose of punishing the defendant, and deterring others from wrongdoing. These are called "punitive damages."
Punitive Damages in Jefferson, Wisconsin are not awarded lightly, because the civil justice system generally disfavors giving plaintiffs financial windfalls not directly related to compensating them for their injuries. They are usually only awarded when the conduct of the defendant is morally reprehensible, and far worse than simple carelessness.
Conduct that can give rise to punitive damages in Jefferson, Wisconsin
Personal injury litigation doesn't usually carry with it the possibility of punitive damages in Jefferson, Wisconsin, because mostly 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 Jefferson, Wisconsin.
In Jefferson, Wisconsin, punitive damages are only awarded in extreme circumstances. 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 Jefferson, Wisconsin will consider many different factors. Usually, 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 essential to know that punitive damages in Jefferson, Wisconsin 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.
Punitive damages in Jefferson, Wisconsin usually 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 Wisconsin 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 Jefferson, Wisconsin Attorney Help?
Jefferson, Wisconsin's courts have wide discretion in awarding punitive damages. Accordingly, it is impossible to comprehensively discuss all the situations in which punitive damages can arise.
If you are located in Jefferson, Wisconsin, 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 Jefferson, Wisconsin civil litigation attorney