Damages: Generally, the sum of money that a person wronged is entitled to receive from the wrongdoer as compensation for a loss or injury. There are many types of damages, some of which include the following:
Compensatory Damages: A broad term used to describe damages that repay actual losses suffered by a plaintiff due to personal injury or wrongful death. Some examples include medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering.
General Damages: Monetary damages to compensate for losses such as pain, suffering, humiliation, the loss of enjoyment of life as well as grief suffered from the loss of a loved one.
Consequential Damages: A type of compensatory damage, any losses that do not flow directly from a negligent act, but result indirectly from the act.
Pain and Suffering: Monetary damages to compensate a plaintiff for the physical pain, discomfort, worry, apprehension, and mental distress suffered in connection with an injury. These damages are particularly difficult for a jury to quantify, resulting in a wide range and often inconsistent amounts when comparing personal injury settlements and awards.
Society and Companionship: In a personal injury or wrongful death action, a spouse or other close relative may recover damages associated with the loss of the general love, affection, and companionship that spouses and other family members share with one another. Some states have placed damage caps on the amount of money that can be recovered due to such loss.
Consortium: The loss of or decrease in sexual activity or intimacy between spouses as the result of a personal injury to one of the
Double Damages: Some states have statutes that provide for compensatory damages to be doubled in order to deter certain conduct. Common examples include injuries caused by dog bites and violation of certain safety statutes.
Pecuniary Damages: Generally refers to those types of compensatory damages that are financial in nature, such as medical expenses, lost income, and funeral expenses in a wrongful death case. Pecuniary damages can also refer those monetary losses that can be estimated, such as future wage loss. In wrongful death cases, pecuniary damages could include any loss which a beneficiary would have received had the person lived, such as pension income, loss of benefits, and loss of accumulated inheritance.
Punitive Damages: Damages awarded by the court or a jury in addition to compensatory damages, which is intended to punish a defendant for extreme behavior and to deter others from similar conduct. The nature and type of conduct by a defendant necessary to obtain punitive damages varies widely among the states, and may be subject to damage caps.
Exemplary Damages: Another term used in some states for punitive damages.
Damage Caps: Artificial dollar limits placed on certain types of damages by state statute, typically enacted as part of “tort reform” efforts pushed by insurance companies and big business to limit their exposure and increase their profits at the expense of injured persons.
Deposition: A deposition is a form of “discovery” in which a plaintiff, a defendant, a witness, or an expert witness is formally questioned under oath by the attorneys representing all parties in the lawsuit. The deposition is like oral testimony in a trial, but takes place under less formal circumstances and in advance of a trial. The deposition is typically given before a court reporter and the witness is asked questions by attorneys for all parties.
Defendant: A person who is sued in a court of law.
Direct Examination: The initial questioning of a witness by the party that called the witness.
Discovery: The use of depositions, interrogatories, requests for production of documents, requests for admissions, and demands for independent medical examinations, and other procedures to discover relevant evidence held by the other parties or by independent witnesses.
Duty: A legal obligation to take action or not take action as specified by common law or statute. Under tort law, one has the duty of reasonable care to avoid injuring others.
Duty to Warn: The legal obligation to warn people of a danger. Usually, manufacturers of hazardous products have a duty to warn customers of a product’s potential dangers and to advise users of any precautions they should take.
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