Litigation Lawyers in Buckhannon
Civil litigation in Buckhannon, West Virginia 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 Buckhannon, West Virginia 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."
Courts in Buckhannon, West Virginia 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 Buckhannon, West Virginia
The vast majority of personal injury lawsuits in Buckhannon, West Virginia involve situations in which the defendant did not intend to harm the plaintiff, but did so through carelessness. This is not enough to award punitive damages in Buckhannon, West Virginia.
Punitive damages in Buckhannon, West Virginia are not granted 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 Buckhannon, West Virginia 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.
You should be aware of the fact that there are some pretty severe limits on punitive damages in Buckhannon, West Virginia. 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 large amounts of property.
Generally, in Buckhannon, West Virginia, 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, however, and is applied on a case-by-case basis. Courts in West Virginia have found much smaller awards to be invalid, and upheld much larger awards.
How Can a Buckhannon, West Virginia Attorney Help?
The law of Buckhannon, West Virginia doesn't lay out many strict conditions which are required before punitive damages can be granted. Instead, it largely leaves it to the discretion of the courts. So, there are several situations where they might be awarded.
If you are located in Buckhannon, West Virginia, 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 Buckhannon, West Virginia civil litigation attorney