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In law, loss generally refers to a decrease in a person’s physical, emotional, legal, or pecuniary situation. See also: damage

Some federal statute divides loss into economic and noneconomic loss. Economic loss is any pecuniary loss resulting from harm. Noneconomic loss means loss for pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, mental anguish, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of society or companionship, loss of consortium, hedonic damages, injury to reputation, or any other nonpecuniary loss of any kind of nature.

A party can experience loss through some of the following ways: serious bodily injury resulting from a car accident (Oberly v. Bangs Ambulance Inc.), paying more than the actual value of property (Benson v. Fannie May Confections Brands, Inc.), an invasion of the exclusive use of tangible property (Olwell v. Nye & Nissen Co.), or receiving goods of a lesser quality than represented (MayHall v. A.H. Pond Co.).

Loss may also refer to one of the following kinds of loss:

  •        Actual loss: A method of measuring loss in a breach of contract situation, where the loss is the difference between the market value of the goods had they been delivered according to contractual specifications and the market value of the goods as they were delivered. Philips Consumer Electronics Co. v. Arrow Carrier Corp.
  •          Actual total loss: In marine insurance context, when the vessel no longer exists or is irretrievably sunk. American Marine Ins. Group v. Neptunia Ins. Co.
  •         Constructive Loss: In a marine insurance context, when the vessel is found but the cost of repairs exceeds the repaired value of the vessel. American Marine Ins. Group v. Neptunia Ins. Co.
  •         Direct Loss: In an insurance context, the loss the proceeds immediately or proximately from the peril insured against, as opposed to proceeding remotely from the peril insured against. Farmers Ins. Exchange v. Wallace.
  •         Economic Loss Doctrine: Doctrine employed by many jurisdictions providing that no cause of action can be maintained in tort for contract claims which involve no injury to person or property. Hoseline, Inc. v. U.S.A. Diversified Products.
  •         Proof of Loss: Technical term in an insurance policy, meaning formal proofs on prescribed forms. Standard Acc. Ins. Co. v. Bennett.
  •         Total Loss: When the cost to repair exceeds the value of the property. Bradley v. Allstate Ins. Co.

[Last updated in August of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]