Damages Defined: Punitive

Punitive damages are awarded to the plaintiff to essentially “punish” the wrongful party. Unlike compensatory damages, this award is not based on actual harm suffered by the injured party.

These damages are awarded when the defendant’s behavior or intent has been found to be especially harmful. They are not usually awarded for breaches of contract unless the intent was “wanton, willful and deliberate.”

In Florida, punitive damages are limited to a maximum of three times the amount of compensatory (or actual) damages awarded, or $500,000 – whichever is greater, except under unusual circumstances.