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Damages

From Academic Kids

Damages, in law has two different meanings. It is used to refer both to the harm suffered by a plaintiff in a civil action, and to any monies paid or awarded to him to compensate for said harm.

Generally, there are three kinds of damages: special damages, general damages, and punitive damages. Special damages are the enumerable or quantifiable monetary costs or losses suffered by the plaintiff, or the compensation therefore. For example, medical costs, repair or replacement of damaged property, lost wages, lost earning potential, loss of business, loss of irreplaceable items, loss of support, etc. General damages are items of harm or loss suffered, for which only a subjective value may be attached. Examples of this might be pain, physical suffering, emotional trauma or suffering, loss of companionship, loss of consortium, disfigurement, loss of reputation, loss or impairment of mental or physical capacity, loss of enjoyment of life, etc.

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Compensatory damages

Compensatory damages are damages awarded for civil cases, it is awarded to the successful party, in the case of the plaintiff, it is awarded as a compensation for the pain undergone and also in most cases is included the legal services payment, however if it is the defendant that wins the case, then it is awarded for legal services and all hardships undergone during the trial.

Punitive damages

Generally, punitive damages are not awarded in order to compensate the plaintiff, but in order to reform or deter the defendant and similar persons from pursuing a course of action such as that which damaged the plaintiff. Punitive damages are awarded only in special cases where conduct was egregiously invidious, and are over and above the amount of compensatory damages. Great judicial restraint is expected to be exercised in their application. In the United States punitive damages awards are subject to the limitations imposed by the due process clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Nominal Damages

On the other hand, nominal damages (very small damages) are awarded to show that the loss or harm suffered was technical rather than actual. Perhaps the most famous nominal damages award in modern times has been the $1 verdict against the National Football League in the 1986 antitrust suit prosecuted by the United States Football League. Although the verdict was automatically trebled pursuant to US antitrust law, the resulting $3 judgment was regarded as a victory for the NFL. Historically, one of the best known nominal damage awards was the farthing (1/4 of a pence) that the jury awarded to James Whistler in his libel suit against John Ruskin.

Economic damages

Economic damages are penalties imposed in civil litigation. They are computed as the loss suffered by a person due to the wrongful actions of another person. The wrongful action may be either accidental, such as an auto accident, or deliberate, such as wrongful termination or harassment in employment situations. In a court of law, it is often useful for the lawyers for both the plaintiff and the defendant to employ economists to compute the value of the loss. The economists will not evaluate whether the action was wrongful, only how much money is required to return the plaintiff to the fiscal position he or she was in prior to the loss. In such a case, it is incumbent on both economists to fully disclose their methodology and how they reached their conclusions. The jury (or judge in non-jury cases) will choose the result which is most in accord with the "preponderance" of the evidence, including any testimony given by the economist(s).cs:Škoda (právo) de:Schadensersatz

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