In certain kinds of injuries, the court or jury may award twice or three times the amount of actual damages in accordance to statute that authorizes it. This is called double or treble damages.
A person seeking double or treble damages has to claim it through his/her complaint and must clearly state that the claim for relief is based on a statutory remedy. A plaintiff is considered to have waived his/her right for treble damages if he/she did not exclusively request it before a motion to correct an error.
If in a case there is a common law remedy, damages have to be claimed by referencing the statute. The complaint filed must state facts that clearly bring the defendant within the provisions of the statute.
In Hackleton v. Larkan, 326 Ark. 649 (Ark. 1996), appellant landowner challenged an order of the Arkansas trial court, which assessed double damages against him for fire damage to appellee neighbor’s trees resulting from the landowner’s negligence in starting, supervising, controlling, and extinguishing a fire. The landowner admitted starting the fire that damaged trees on the neighbor’s land and the case was tried solely on the issue of damages. The court affirmed the judgment for the neighbor in his action for damages to property caused by a fire started on the landowner’s property, but modified the judgment amount to correspond to the jury verdict of single damages. While deciding the case, the court stated that “the treble-damages remedy under Ark. Code Ann. § 18-60-102(a) requires a showing of intentional wrongdoing, even though this intent may be inferred from the carelessness, recklessness, or negligence of the offending party.”