A person would rather seek nominal damages and not punitive damages because the acknowledgement of punitive damages varies across states. Moreover, the criteria for its application depends on the state in question (Eisenberg, Heise, Waters, & Wells, 2010). On the other hand, nominal damages are considered as long as the plaintiff has proof that the defendant caused the claimed damages or injuries (Kubasek, 2016). Additionally, a person seeking punitive damages is more likely to fail. When, for instance, the court does not find signs of malice or neglect in the part of the defendant, punitive damages are inapplicable. The court may also rule out punitive damages if none were awarded to related crimes, in the past.

However, nominal damages are only suitable in circumstances where no substantial damages occur and the plaintiff’s purpose for suing the defendant is to make the court acknowledge the violation of his or her rights. This is because the nominal damages tend to be very low. In case the court of law determines that the compensatory damages are insufficient, the defendant might be required to add punitive damages (Kubasek, 2016).

It applies to situations where the court has evidence that the defendant acted out of negligence or that the incident was intentional. For example, Cisco Systems had to pay $1.9 billion after the court proved that it the company infringed cybersecurity components belonging to Centripetal Networks. The court based Cisco Systems recklessness on the fact that it copied features that had been patented. The act also appeared malicious and deliberate. Such punitive damages are generally intended to warn the potential offenders and to prevent the defendant from repeating such acts in the future.