When a plaintiff files a lawsuit because of some other person’s legal wrong, the plaintiff is often seeking damages. Damages are a judicial award of money. Depending on the kind of wrong that the plaintiff alleges, there are different kinds of damages that he or she might be able to recover. A short blog post like this couldn’t possibly list them all, but here are three common kinds of damages that are available to an injured plaintiff:
1. Nominal Damages
Nominal damages are the judicial equivalent of a slap on the wrist. When a party is awarded nominal damages, the award will usually be something like $1.00—yes, one dollar. A court will award nominal damages when, though there’s been a technical legal wrong, it didn’t result in damages. For example, if someone walks through her neighbor’s yard without the neighbor’s permission, but doesn’t cause any damage to the property, the neighbor could sue for trespass. If the neighbor prevails, the court would award nominal damages, but nothing else.
2. Compensatory Damages
An award of compensatory damages is meant to make a party whole for any harm caused by the wrong of another. This is actually a very broad class of different measures of damages. For example, in a personal injury action, the amount of money that the injured party paid for medical expenses to treat his or her injury could be awarded as compensatory damages. Damages for pain and suffering would also qualify as compensatory damages, even though it can be difficult to pin down a dollar amount that would compensate for such injuries. In the context of a breach of contract, compensatory damages would be the value that the non-breaching party expected to receive under the contract, less the value actually received. The unifying theory behind these different measures is that they are designed to make the injured party whole.
3. Punitive Damages
As the name suggests, punitive damages are meant to punish a party for particularly egregious behavior. When punitive damages are allowed, the jury will get to hear evidence of the wrongdoer’s wealth, because that is one factor they will consider in fixing the amount of punitive damages. If they were to set the amount too low, a wealthy wrongdoer would not be dissuaded from engaging in such behavior in the future. However, according to the U.S. Supreme Court, an award of punitive damages can be so great as to violate the Due Process Clauses of the U.S. Constitution.
Of these three kinds of damages, compensatory damages are the most common. If the only damage award available to a plaintiff is nominal damages, then the plaintiff is unlikely to want to waste the time and money necessary to win a lawsuit. While punitive damages would have the opposite effect, making filing a lawsuit more attractive to a plaintiff, they are only available in certain kinds of cases.
America is known for having one of the most complex legal systems all over the world. The system bases itself on federal law but is supported by laws that are passed by state legislatures. The rights and freedoms that American citizens enjoy are enshrined in the Bill of Rights. The US constitution and American law apply to everyone within the country irrespective of their immigration status or citizenship. Besides this, even those who immigrated to the US illegally also enjoy most of the basic rights that are enshrined in the constitution.
The US constitution stipulates that every state in the union can establish its own unique system of civil and criminal laws. This means that the country has 50 dissimilar state legal systems that are supported by different laws, law enforcement agencies, courts, and even prisons. There is also a huge difference between local and state laws, which means that one must understand the laws of another state before moving there.
The US Judiciary
This is an autonomous arm of the US government. It comprises the US Court of Appeals, the US District Courts, and the Supreme Court, which is the highest court in America’s legal system. It is made of 9 judges appointed by the president to serve for life. The decisions made by these officials is final and binding. When it comes to determining cases, the Supreme Court typically evaluates the activities of federal and state governments before deciding whether these laws are constitutional or not. The court has the power to even nullify laws that have been passed by Congress. This proves how powerful it is.
This is a distinct system of courts, which typically operates together with state courts. Federal courts mainly deal with cases that arise under any treaty or law, or the US constitution. They similarly hear and determine cases pertaining to disputes between state governments. Cases that fall within the jurisdiction of federal courts are often heard by federal district judges.
Criminal and Civil Courts
There is a clear distinction and separation between American civil courts and criminal courts. Generally, the former handle disputes such as child custody after divorce while the latter prosecute individuals who violate the law. Crimes may either be categorized as felonies or misdemeanors. Felonies are serious crimes such as drug dealing and robbery.
Those who are found guilty of such crimes are often sentenced to jail. Misdemeanors are lesser violations including illegal parking or dropping litter. Individuals who are charged with misdemeanors are often issued with summons or even left with a warning. Regardless of the violation that one commits, it is advisable to involve a lawyer who will help hasten the bail process or represent them in court. The US legal system has a provision for plea bargaining. This entails the defense and prosecution making a deal in such a way that the accused pleads guilty to a less serious charge.
Personal injury cases are one of the most common instances wherein having a lawyer is absolutely necessary. You simply cannot do without the skills of an experienced and reliable personal injury lawyer by your side. This article explains what you should expect from your counsel.
Why Get A Lawyer?
As you know, legal matters can be pretty overwhelming if you have no idea what’s going on. More often than not, you will need the help of a legal professional who knows how to navigate the complexities of the law. It would also come in handy in situations where your insurance company refuses to honor your claim.
What to Expect
The actual amount you will receive as accident compensation will vary on a case to case basis. This is because it is determined by a number of different factors and circumstances pertinent to the case. This includes things such as the type and severity of your injuries, the amount of your medical bills, the time it will take for you to get back in shape.
If you wish to get the best deal possible, you should understand that it would only be possible with the right lawyer.
Finding a good lawyer is indispensable, especially during times when you drastically need a reliable legal counsel. However, it is often easier said than done. This article seeks to help readers find the lawyer that will best fit their needs.
This article provides a basic guide on the things you need to take into consideration when looking for a lawyer. It would certainly serve you well to follow always keep these things in mind.