Punitive Damages in North Carolina

In some personal injury cases the at-fault party may be responsible for paying punitive damages. The purpose of punitive damages is twofold:

  • First, to punish egregiously wrongful acts
  • Second, to prevent the wrongdoer and others from continuing the same or similar wrongs

In order to get punitive damages, the claimant has to show:

  • That the defendant is liable for compensatory damages – that the defendant was responsible for the claimant’s economic injuries and
  • That an aggravating factor was present and related to the compensatory award. An aggravating factor is:
    • Fraud,
    • Malice, or
    • Wilful or wanton misconduct

There are other requirements in North Carolina, such as that breach of contract can’t be the sole basis for the punitive damage claim and each of the terms used, such as claimant and fraud have more precise definitions.
Punitive damages in North Carolina can be no greater than the larger of the following two:

  • $250,000
  • Three times the compensatory damage award


Anyone who has been in an accident in North Carolina because of someone’s carelessness or because of a worker’s compensation case, and who has received injuries, needs to have legal help. Contact Norfolk Injury Lawyer Joe Miller online or call us at 888-694-1671 for more information on how to proceed, how to work with your doctors, and whether you might have significant recovery coming your way.