The term “treble damages” refers to “triple the damages” for the plaintiffs. The purpose of increasing damages is to provide additional compensation to the victim for their recovery–it’s not to punish the offender. They also serve as a deterrent when the typical legal consequences are insufficient.
The court has the discretion to award treble damages in Indiana. Usually, when a defendant does something outrageous, repaying the victim for damages isn’t enough. However, treble damages are reserved for certain situations.
Compensatory damages are awarded to an injured person to restore them to the same position as if the incident had never occurred.
Punitive damages are awarded in addition to compensatory damages in cases where the defendant’s actions were especially harmful.
In Indiana, treble damages like punitive damages are granted in cases where the defendant’s actions were outrageous and especially harmful, but the awarded amount is three times the compensatory damages. Treble damages are governed by statute and not applicable to personal injury actions generally.
Punitive damages serve as punishment, whereas treble damages are usually meant to augment the plaintiff’s recovery.
Unlike punitive damages, treble damages will only be allowed when the law authorizes you. In contrast, punitive damages are always within the discretion of the courts. However, there are times when punitive damages could exceed treble damages.
Treble damages will rarely be awarded in addition to punitive damages. Most courts will view this as double dipping, especially since treble damages are similar to punitive damages.
If you are awarded treble damages from a case, you can consider it a significant win. However, while this is always better than receiving compensatory damages, every dollar awarded after the base amount may be taxable.
Treble damages are governed by statute in Indiana Code 34-24-3. Generally, though not exclusively, treble damages are permitted in Indiana in cases that would constitute a criminal offense involving property. Treble damages do not apply to personal injury actions.
The calculation is straightforward because treble damages are three times the actual damages. In most states, a court will multiply the compensatory damages by three to determine the final damages awarded. Treble damages are not in addition to the base compensatory damages.
For example, if your base compensation was $10,000, you would receive up to $30,000 in treble damages.
“One aim of the treble damage statute is to encourage victims of crimes against property to recover losses that were previously unrecoverable because they were too small to support a lawsuit or were not covered by insurance.” Seifert v. Bland, 587 N.E.2d 1317, 1320 (Ind. 1992).
Generally, treble damages are recoverable if a person has suffered a pecuniary loss as a result of a violation of IC 35-43 (criminal property offenses), IC 35-42-3-3 (criminal confinement), IC 35-42-3-4 (criminal interference with custody), IC 35-45-9 (criminal gang control), or IC 35-46-10 (criminal offenses involving critical infrastructure). In addition to proving the particular elements for the crime committed, a person would also need to prove the damages proximately resulting therefrom.
Working with our attorneys at Tuley Law Office allows you to focus on your life while we work to recover the compensation you deserve.
Fill out the contact form on our website or call (812) 625-2113 to reach one of our attorneys and learn more about the compensation you may be eligible for.