Treble damages refer to a court’s award of three times the actual damages to a plaintiff who wins a lawsuit. The law considers certain types of wrongdoing egregious enough to treble—or triple—a plaintiff’s compensation.
In order to collect treble damages for a lawsuit in Tennessee, the court must rule in your favor, then conclude that your suffering or losses warrant an award of three times the monetary value of the loss. Typically this would happen when the wrongdoing is willful rather than simply negligent.
It is common for judgements in cases of corporate misconduct to result in trebled damages, but they can happen in personal injury or accident lawsuits as well. Trebled damages are punitive and statutes allowing courts to award such damages exist as a deterrent against intentional wrongdoing.
What kinds of cases result in treble damages?
A plaintiff is eligible for treble damages in several kinds of cases, including:
- Breach of contract;
- Patent infringement;
- Antitrust activity; and
- Violations of consumer protections against unfair or deceptive business practices.
What must I prove in order to receive trebled damages?
Since trebled damages greatly exceed those awarded in ordinary lawsuits, plaintiffs must meet a high standard of proof. For instance, to receive trebled damages in an antitrust case, the Tennessee Attorney General established in 2001 that a plaintiff must demonstrate not only unlawful antitrust activity on the part of the defendant, but that the activity produced the specific kind of injury lawmakers intended to prevent.
If a plaintiff wins a lawsuit on the grounds that the defendant violated the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act, he or she would need to demonstrate that this violation occurred knowingly in order to be eligible for trebled damages. The law further instructs the court to consider additional factors when deciding whether to treble the damages, such as:
- The consumer’s competence and knowledge of his or her rights;
- The “nature of the deception or coercion;”
- The damage the unfair or deceptive practice caused; and
- Whether the defendant violated the “good faith” of the plaintiff.
Can I get more than triple the damages if I win a lawsuit?
In many cases, a plaintiff can recover attorney fees and interest on top of a trebled damages award. But there are rules in place that usually prevent awards from exceeding three times the actual damage. State law also prevents the courts from demanding additional punitive damages from a business for the same deceitful practices.
Do I need a lawyer’s help?
If you are the victim of fraud, corporate malfeasance, or other willful wrongdoing, you deserve to recover your losses and to set an example so others do not fall victim to the same deceitful practices. Trebled damages require a high standard of proof, so you should seek expert legal help from the attorneys at the Law Offices of Ogle, Elrod & Baril PLLC. Call 865-546-1111 for a consultation on your case.