Exemplary Damages Legal Meaning and Definition

Here is a simplified definition of the legal term Exemplary Damages.

Exemplary Damages (noun):

Also known as punitive damages, these are monetary amounts awarded in a lawsuit to a plaintiff when the defendant's actions were particularly malicious, fraudulent, violent, or grossly reckless. They are given not only as punishment to the defendant, but also to set a public example and discourage such behaviour in the future. The intention behind exemplary damages is to penalize severe wrongdoing. Examples of cases that may involve exemplary damages include defamation when the publisher knowingly spreads false information, intentional property damage, or fraudulent activity leading to significant financial loss. Despite being frequently sought, they are rarely awarded and usually reserved for outstandingly egregious cases. Exemplary damages may be granted even if the plaintiff's actual quantifiable damages are minimal.