DEFINITION of Treble Damages

Treble damages refer to financial compensation awarded by a court to a prevailing plaintiff that are three times the actual or compensatory damages. Treble damages may be required by the statute that has been violated.

BREAKING DOWN Treble Damages

Treble damages are a type of civil damages awarded in civil court cases. Treble damages are often awarded in cases involving patent infringement, willful counterfeiting and antitrust violations. Plaintiffs in personal injury cases may also receive treble damages if the violated statute supports them, if the plaintiff requests them and if the defendant intended to harm the plaintiff. Treble damages are intended to be punitive in order to deter others from committing the same offense.

General damages are financial awards made by a court in a civil case in addition to compensatory damages. General damages are usually requested along with compensatory damages but are more difficult to obtain. General damages typically fall under the heading of pain and suffering or mental anguish, for example.

Like treble damages, punitive damages are imposed in order to punish the perpetrator, not just compensate the plaintiff. Punitive damages may be awarded at the discretion of the court when the offense is determined to be particularly harmful.

The term "liquidated damages" also refer to financial compensation due to an aggrieved party. They differ in that they are typically specified in a contract for a particular offense.