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Punitive Damages in Virginia

Punitive damages in Virginia are like punitive damages in North Carolina with some differences.

Purpose – there are two main purposes for punitive damages in Virginia.

  • First, to punish egregiously wrongful acts
  • Second, to prevent the wrongdoer and others from continuing the same or similar wrongs

Punitive damages are not meant to compensate the victim. They are meant to punish the wrongdoer. The victim does get the benefit.


In order to get punitive or exemplary damages, the claimant has to show:

  • That the defendant is liable for compensatory damages – that the defendant was responsible for the claimant’s economic injuries and
  • Reckless or Wilful or wanton misconduct

Which case types?

Not every case type is eligible for punitive damages in Virginia. There aren’t punitive damages for breach of contract. There are punitive damages for wrongful death cases and certain drunk driving cases (if reckless or wanton misconduct can be shown – over and above the normal misconduct). (see our page on drunk driving cases).


Punitive damages can be no greater than $350,000.00 and must be relatable to compensatory (economic) damages. Unlike North Carolina, there is no “whichever is greater” language. $350,000 is an absolute cap on punitive damages in Virginia.


Anyone who has been in an accident in Virginia because of someone’s carelessness or because of a worker’s compensation case, and who has received injuries, needs to have legal help. Contact Norfolk Injury Lawyer Joe Miller or call us at 888-694-1671 for more information on how to proceed, how to work with your doctors, and whether you might have a significant recovery coming your way.


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5500-B Greenwich Rd.
Virginia Beach, VA 23462

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507 E Main St #K
Elizabeth City, NC 27907

If you are looking at this site, you or a loved one has probably been hurt. If that's true, you've come to the right place. Helping people who have been hurt is what we do. In fact, it is all we do. Joe Miller Law is a law firm concentrating exclusively on representing people who are injured by the carelessness of others or those hurt on the job. We provide the highest quality legal services to people who have been seriously injured. We practice Personal Injury law and Workmens' Compensation law in both Virginia and North Carolina.