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What Are Treble Damages?


When a person wins a court hearing, it is possible that the court may award him or her with damages in order to compensate for whatever injury or harm was suffered by the plaintiff. However, it is also possible for the court to change the amount of damages and awarded and triple it. When the original amount of damages is increased by 3, this is referred to as treble damages.


In some civil court hearings, it is at the discretion of the judge whether or not to grant treble damages. Despite this, it is possible that treble damages may be legally required in some other cases. The purpose of increasing the original amount of damages by 3 to make it treble damages is to act as a disincentive for whatever offense or behavior was committed by the defendant. As such, treble damages are characterized as punitive.


Before treble damages can be awarded, one key element must be proven. It is necessary that the plaintiff demonstrate that the defendant deliberately and willfully committed the offense or crime. For example, a person who commits plagiarism knowingly takes a piece of writing, art, or other work, and credits it as his or her own. However, if it cannot be proven that the defendant committed the act willfully and deliberately, then he or she is liable for damages but not amounting to treble damages.


Before a judge decides to give treble damages to the plaintiff, the financial situation of the defendant should be considered in order to determine if he or she can pay the amount set.

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