Damages

definition

In tort law, a remedy in the form of monetary compensation to the harmed party.

damages: an overview

Damages, in a legal sense, is the sum of money the law imposes for a breach of some duty or violation of some right. Generally, there are two types of damages: compensatory and punitive. (The term "damages" typically includes both categories, but the term, "actual damages" is synonymous with compensatory damages, and excludes punitive damages.)

Compensatory damages, like the name suggests, are intended to compensate the injured party for his loss or injury. Punitive damages are awarded to punish a wrongdoer. There are other modifying terms placed in front of the word damages like "liquidated damages," (contractually established damages) and "nominal damages" (where the court awards a nominal amount such as one dollar). For certain types of injuries statutes provide that successful parties should receive some multiple of their "actual damages" -- e.g., treble damages.

There are general principles governing what types of damages are awarded. It is generally recognized, for instance, that punitive damages are not available for breaches of contract except when it is proven that the breach was wanton, willful and deliberate.

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