Litigation Lawyers in Martinsburg
Civil litigation in Martinsburg, West Virginia 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.
Nonetheless, this general principle has a major exception. In rare cases, a Martinsburg, West Virginia judge or jury can award damages to the plaintiff that are not calculated by the actual losses sustained. Instead, they serve the purpose of punishing the defendant, and deterring others from wrongdoing. These are called "punitive damages."
Courts in Martinsburg, West Virginia do not authorize punitive damages in most cases. The civil litigation system is geared against authorizing 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 comparable misconduct outweighs the civil justice system's preference against punitive damages.
Conduct that can give rise to punitive damages in Martinsburg, West Virginia
Generally personal injury cases in Martinsburg, West Virginia do not involve punitive damages, because the defendant did not intend to cause harm, or act with some other form of malice. Rather, most of these cases involve situations where the defendant acted carelessly, but did not actually intend to cause harm. This is enough to award compensatory damages, but it is far from sufficient to award punitive damages in Martinsburg, West Virginia.
In Martinsburg, West Virginia, punitive damages are only awarded in extreme situations. 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 Martinsburg, West Virginia will consider many different factors. Normally, 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.
You should be cognizant of the fact that there are some pretty severe limits on punitive damages in Martinsburg, 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 massive amounts of property.
Punitive damages in Martinsburg, West Virginia normally 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 West Virginia 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 Martinsburg, West Virginia Attorney Help?
Martinsburg, West Virginia's courts have wide discretion in awarding punitive damages. Therefore, it is impractical to comprehensively discuss all the situations in which punitive damages can arise.
If you are immersed in a case in Martinsburg, West Virginia where punitive damages are a possibility, a very large amount of money could be at stake, whether you are the plaintiff or defendant. You should not delay to speak with a civil litigation attorney in Martinsburg, West Virginia