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Punitive Damages

What are Punitive Damages?

"Punitive Damages" is money awarded to a prevailing party that goes beyond economic damages. It is used to punish a party's mis-behavior and to "make an example" of extremely unreasonable conduct in a civil proceeding, to thwart future parties from engaging in the same behavior. There are legal guidelines that determine the measure of punitive damages, but it is often a multiple of the "actual" damages. For example, if a jury decides that plaintiff sustained injuries valued at $100,000 due to defendant's reckless behavior, it might award 5x that amount in punitive damages.