What are punitive damages?

In North Carolina, punitive damages may be awarded only if the defendant is liable for compensatory damages, such as medical expenses and pain and suffering, and one of the following aggravating factors is present and related to the injury for which compensatory damages were awarded: (1) fraud, (2) malice, or (3) willful or wanton conduct. Willful and wanton conduct is a conscious and intentional disregard of and indifference to the rights and safety of others, which the defendant knows, or should know, is reasonably likely to result in injury or damage. The most common personal injury cases involving punitive damage claims are when the at-fault driver was intoxicated or drunk at the time of the accident.