Other Free Encyclopedias » Law Library - American Law and Legal Information » Free Legal Encyclopedia: Tonnage tax to Umpire » Tort Law - Intentional Torts, Breast Implant Lawsuits, Negligence, Strict Liability, Causation, Damages, Immunity

Tort Law - Damages

property plaintiffs recover value

Personal injury tort victims must normally recover all their damages—past, present, and future—during a single lawsuit. Damages may be recovered for physical, psychological, and emotional injury. Specifically, these injuries may include permanent disability, pain and suffering, disfigurement, humiliation, embarrassment, distress, impairment of earning capacity, lost wages or profits, medical costs, and out-of-pocket expenses. Courts typically rely on EXPERT TESTIMONY to translate such losses into dollar figures.

Plaintiffs suffering damage to personal property must elect between two methods of recovery. First, plaintiffs may elect to recover the difference between the value of the property before the tort and the value of the property after it. Second, plaintiffs may elect to recover the reasonable costs of repair for damaged personal property. However, if the property is destroyed, irreparable, or economically infeasible to repair, damages are measured by the replacement value of the property. Persons who are temporarily deprived of personalty may sue to recover the rental value of the property for the period of deprivation.

Damages for injury to real property may be measured by the difference in the realty's value before and after the tort. Alternatively, plaintiffs may elect to recover the reasonable costs of restoring the property to its original condition. In either case plaintiffs may also recover the rental value of their property if its use and enjoyment has been interrupted by tortious behavior. Mental, emotional, and physical harm that is sustained in the process of a tortious injury to real property is compensable as well.

Punitive damages, called exemplary damages in some jurisdictions, are recoverable against tortfeasors whose injurious conduct is sufficiently egregious. Although punitive damages are typically awarded for injuries suffered from intentional torts, they can also be awarded against tortfeasors who act with reckless indifference to the safety of others. Because one purpose of punitive damages is to punish the defendant, plaintiffs may introduce evidence regarding a tortfeasor's wealth to allow the jury to better assess the amount of damages necessary for punishment. Such evidence is normally deemed irrelevant or prejudicial in almost every other type of damage claim.

In addition to damages for past tortious conduct, plaintiffs may seek injunctive relief to prevent future harm. Manufacturing plants that billow smoke that pollutes the air, companies that discharge chemicals that poison the water, and factories that store chemicals that migrate through the soil create risks of injury that are likely to recur over time. In tort law, operations that produce recurring injuries like these are called nuisances. If the harmfulness of such operations outweighs their usefulness, plaintiffs may successfully obtain a court order enjoining or restraining them.

Tort Law - Immunity [next] [back] Tort Law - Causation

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or