special damages

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Special damages as a legal term has more than one meaning depending on the area of law and/or jurisdiction. In tort law, special damages are damages like car dents or medical expenses that can actually be ascertained, and they are contrasted with general damages, which refer to damages for things like intentional infliction of emotional distress which do not have a set monetary cost. 

In contract law, special damages (also called consequential damages) refer to irregular damages such as physical injuries during a breach of contract, but general damages would refer to the damages expected from the contract being breached. 

[Last updated in July of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team