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Legal Definition and Related Resources of Damages

Meaning of Damages

The term has an accepted technical meaning in law consisting of pecuniary compensation or indemnity which may be recovered in the courts by any person who has suffered loss, detriment or injury whether to his person, property or right , through the unlawful act, omission or negligence of another. Aetna casualty & surety Co. v Hanna, 224 F.2d 499. The pecuniary compensation or indemnity which the law awards to an injured party for the breach of a contract or duty, and involves the idea of a loss that must be made good and putting the injured party in as good condition as if the injury had not been inflicted. Bremhorst v Phillips Coat Co., 211 N. W. 898, 202 Iowa 1251. In law, damages are divided into two broad categories, namely general damages and special damages . general damages are those as might accrue to any person similarly injured and are the natural and necessary result of a wrong . General damages are implied by law and may be recovered under a general allegation of damages. But special damages do not necessarily result from the wrong but which do in fact accrue to the particular individual by reason of the particular circumstances of the case. Special damages must be pleaded specifically and the facts giving rise to special damages must be alleged so as to fairly inform the opponent of the scope of the plaintiffs demands. See Rodd v W. H. King Drug Co., 228 S. E.2d35,30 N. C.App. 564; Ringgold v Land, 193 S.E. 267, 212 N.C.369.Damages may be either liquidated or unliquidated . They are liquidated where they are capable of precise computation or can be calculated with reference to any fixed scale or other positive data. They are unliquidated when they are to be assessed by the court having regard to all the circumstances of the case. See Generally, Rex trailer Co. v U.S., 350 U.S. 148, 76 S.Ct. 219. Damages may be nominal , that is, awarded as a token for the infringement of legal right but which infringement has not resulted in any damage . It may be contemptuous, as where the plaintiff has proved his case but the action ought never to have been brought . Atchison, T. & S.F.R. Co. v Watson, 15 P. 877, 37 Kan. 773. Exemplary or punitive damages are those awarded over and above the actual loss suffered by the plaintiff. As a punishment to the defendant and to deter him and others from committing similar acts. See Washington Gas Light Co. v Lansden, 172 U.S. 534, 19 S.Ct. 296, 43 L.Ed. 543.

Damages Alternative Definition

The indemnity recoverable by a person who has sustained an injury, either in his person, property, or relative rights, through the act or default of another. The sum claimed as such indemnity by a plaintiff in his declaration. The injury or loss for which compensation is sought. The sums allowed by law for tortious injury or losses from breach of contract. 1 Suth. Dam. 3. In Modern Law. The term Is not used in a legal sense to include the costs of suit, though it was formerly so used. Co. Litt. 267a; Doug. 751. Damages are either direct or consequential.
(1) Direct are those which result immediately from the act complained of.
(2) Consequential are more remote consequences of such act. See “Consequential Damages.” Compensatory or exemplary; the latter being also called “punitive” or “vindictive.”
(3) Compensatory damages are those allowed as recompense for the injury suffered.
(4) Exemplary damages are those allowed as a punishment for torts committed with fraud or actual malice. See “Exemplary Damages.” General or special.
(5) General damages are those necessarily and by implication of law resulting from the act or default complained of.
(6) Special damages are those arising directly, but not necessarily or by implication of law. Liquidated or unliquidated.
(7) Liquidated damages are those whose amount has been determined by anticipatory agreement between the parties.
(8) Unliquidated damages are those not so fixed, but determined after they have resulted. Substantial or nominal.
(9) Substantial damages are those allowed as actual compensation.
(10) Nominal damages are a trifling sum allowed where an infraction of a right is shown, but no resultant damage is proved. See “Nominal Damages.”

Synonyms of Damages


  • amends
  • compensation
  • costs
  • expenses
  • expiation
  • fine
  • indemnification
  • indemnity
  • injury
  • just compensation
  • legal costs
  • legal liability
  • loss
  • penalty
  • recompense
  • recovery
  • reimbursement
  • remuneration for injury suffered
  • reparation
  • repayment for injury sustained
  • repayment for loss
  • restitution
  • restoration Associated Concepts: actual loss
  • addamnum clause
  • additur
  • aggravation of damages
  • amercement
  • apportionment of damages
  • assessment of damages
  • civil damages
  • claim for damages
  • compensatory damages
  • conjectural damages
  • consequential damages
  • contingent damages
  • continuing damages
  • damages accrued
  • damages actually sustained
  • damages to person
  • damages to property
  • damages to realty
  • damnum absque injuria
  • direct damages
  • division of damages
  • duty to minimize damages
  • estimated damages
  • excessive damages
  • exemplary damages
  • future damages
  • general damages
  • incidental damages
  • intervening damages
  • irreparable damages
  • irreparable injury
  • lawful damages
  • limitation of liability
  • liquidated damages
  • measure of damages
  • minimizing damages
  • mitigation of damages
  • nominal damages
  • ordinary damages
  • pecuniary damages
  • pecuniary loss
  • permanent damages
  • presumptive damages
  • property damage
  • prospective damages
  • proximate damages
  • punitive damages
  • remote damages
  • special damages
  • speculative damages
  • substantial damages
  • treble damages
  • unliquidated damagesforeign phrases: Ubi damna dantur
  • victus victori in expensis condemnari debet
  • Wheve damages are given
  • the losing party ought to be condemned to pay costs to the victor
  • treble damages
  • unliquidated damagesforeign phrases: Ubi damna dantur
  • victus victori in expensis condemnari debet
  • Wheve damages are given
  • the losing party ought to be condemned to pay costs to the victor

Related Entries of Damages in the Encyclopedia of Law Project

Browse or run a search for Damages in the American Encyclopedia of Law, the Asian Encyclopedia of Law, the European Encyclopedia of Law, the UK Encyclopedia of Law or the Latin American and Spanish Encyclopedia of Law.

Damages in Historical Law

You might be interested in the historical meaning of this term. Browse or search for Damages in Historical Law in the Encyclopedia of Law.

For more information about Historical Law definitions, see Historical Definitions in the Encyclopedia of Law. For more information about Historical Law Books and Legal Documents, see Legal Encyclopedia of Historical Books and Documents and Legal Encyclopedia of Books and Documents of the 20th Century.

Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms

Search for legal acronyms and/or abbreviations containing Damages in the Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms Dictionary. The Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms Dictionary entries include explanations of the context of abbreviations or acronyms as well as the direct meaning.

Related Legal Terms

You might be also interested in these legal terms:

Mentioned in these terms

Act Of God, Aggravation, Air Rights, Amount In Controversy, Assumpsit, , Collateral Source Rule, Comparative Negligence, Compensate, Compensation, Compensatory Damages, Compromise Verdict, Conversion, Damage, Dead Freight, Ejectment, Enticement, Exemplary Damages, Expectation Of Life, False Arrest, General Damages, Gloucester, Statute Of, Indemnity Insurance, Interesse Termini, Liquidated Damages, Malicious Prosecution, Measure Of Damages, Mental Anguish, Mitigation, Mitigation Of Damages, Moratory Interest, Nominal Damages, Penal Action, Penalty, Personal Action, Punitive Damages, Real Action, Remoteness, Replevin, Single Publication Rule, Slander, Sound, Special Damages, Specific Performance, Strict Liability, Trover.

Translate Stipulated Damages from English to Spanish

Translation of Stipulated Damages , with examples. More about free online translation into Spanish of Daños convencionales and other legal terms is available here.


You might be interested in these references tools:

Resource Description
Damages in the Dictionary Damages in our legal dictionaries
Browse the Legal Thesaurus Find synonyms and related words of Damages
Legal Maxims Maxims are established principles that jurists use as interpretive tools, invoked more frequently in international law
Legal Answers (Q&A) A community-driven knowledge creation process, of enduring value to a broad audience
Related topics Damages in the World Encyclopedia of Law


This definition of Damages Is based on the The Cyclopedic Law Dictionary . This entry needs to be proofread.

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Thesaurus A structured controlled vocabulary
Topic Map A group of names, occurrences and associations
Topic Tree A topic display format, showing the hierarchy
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http://legaldictionary.lawin.org/damages/ The URI of Damages (more about URIs)

Damages in the Dictionary of Law consisting of Judicial Definitions and Explanations of Words, Phrases and Maxims

The compensation which the law will award for an injury done. 3 Bl. Com. 6-7; 50 Mich. 32.

Note: This legal definition of Damages in the Dictionary of Law (English and American Jurisprudence) is from 1893.

English Spanish Translation of Damages

Daños y perjuicios, indemnización por daños y perjuicios

Find other English to Spanish translations from the Pocket Spanish English Legal Dictionary (print and online), the English to Spanish to English dictionaries (like Damages) and the Word reference legal translator.

Synonyms and Definition Contents

Cite this entry

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(2013, 05). Damages legaldictionary.lawin.org Retrieved 04, 2014, from http://legaldictionary.lawin.org/damages
"Damages" legaldictionary.lawin.org. 05 2013. 04 2014 <http://legaldictionary.lawin.org/damages>
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This entry was last modified: May 12, 2013

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