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Damages - Compensatory Damages, Nominal Damages, Punitive Damages, Liquidated Damages, Appellate Review Of Damages, Further Readings - Treble Damages

awarded plaintiff wrongful conduct

Monetary compensation that is awarded by a court in a civil action to an individual who has been injured through the wrongful conduct of another party.

Damages attempt to measure in financial terms the extent of harm a plaintiff has suffered because of a defendant's actions. Damages are distinguishable from costs, which are the expenses incurred as a result of bringing a lawsuit and which the court may order the losing party to pay. Damages also differ from the verdict, which is the final decision issued by a jury.

The purpose of damages is to restore an injured party to the position the party was in before being harmed. As a result, damages are generally regarded as remedial rather than preventive or punitive. However, PUNITIVE DAMAGES may be awarded for particular types of wrongful conduct. Before an individual can recover damages, the injury suffered must be one recognized by law as warranting redress, and must have actually been sustained by the individual.

The law recognizes three major categories of damages: COMPENSATORY DAMAGES, which are intended to restore what a plaintiff has lost as a result of a defendant's wrongful conduct; nominal damages, which consist of a small sum awarded to a plaintiff who has suffered no substantial loss or injury but has nevertheless experienced an invasion of rights; and punitive damages, which are awarded not to compensate a plaintiff for injury suffered but to penalize a defendant for particularly egregious, wrongful conduct. In specific situations, two other forms of damages may be awarded: treble and liquidated.

Treble Damages

In some situations, where provided by statute, treble damages may be awarded. In such situations, a statute will authorize a judge to multiply the amount of monetary damages awarded by a jury by three, and to order that a plaintiff receive the tripled amount. The CLAYTON ACT of 1914 (15 U.S.C.A. §§ 12 et seq.), for example, directs that treble damages be awarded for violations of federal ANTITRUST LAWS.

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