What are punitive damages and what’s the highest amount of compensation awarded in New Jersey?

Punitive damages are damages which are intended to deter a wrongdoer and others from engaging in similar wrongful conduct in the future. They are given to a plaintiff over and above the amount that will compensate them for their loss. Punitive damages are to be awarded only in exceptional cases, to punish a defendant who has acted in an especially egregious manner.

 

In order for a plaintiff to be awarded punitive damages, they must prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that:

 

  • Their injuries were the fault of the defendant
  • That the defendant’s conduct was malicious; or
  • The defendant acted in a wanton and willful disregard of the plaintiff’s rights

 

Malicious conduct means some sort of intentional wrongdoing. Willful or wanton conduct is a deliberate act or omission knowing that there is a high probability that this conduct will result in harm to another.

 

New Jersey’s punitive damages limit

 

In New Jersey, there is a limit on the amount of punitive damages that can be awarded in a case. Punitive damages are limited to the greater of $350,000 or five times the amount of compensatory damages.

 

 

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