Definition of Damages


In law, “damages” refers to the sum of money or other payments required to restore justice and make things right or whole again when a harm has been done.

Damages typically get split into two main categories:

  • Compensatory Damages – usually known as “money damages” – this is the money that gets repaid for the injuries or losses caused by another
  • Punitive Damages – This is the payment required to punish the one who committed the act

2-min Audio Clip With Attorney Darryl Isaacs, Discussing Damages Meaning:

When you have suffered harms and losses as a result of somebody’s negligence or wrongful act, the civil law entitles you to seek compensation for those harms and injuries. These are called “damages”, and compensatory damage includes actual damages, such as medical bills and lost wages, as well as the harm you suffer such as emotional distress and physical pain and suffering. In accidents involving big commercial vehicles, damages can run into millions of dollars.

1-Minute Video of Damages Meaning:

What Does Damages Mean? Let’s Break It Down In Layman’s Terms:

When someone gets injured by another party, or someone creates a loss of property, loss of life, loss of ability to work, etc., it’s pretty easy to see that the injury and those losses are considered the damage done to that party.

Once things get into the hands of lawyers and the courts, you will see an amount of money (or other form of award) assigned to those injuries and losses. The assigned amount is what the legal world will call the damages in a case.

So if you’ve been damaged, you’ll seek to recover the losses others caused in order to make you whole again. That’s what is known as “recovering damages,” in a case.


Cartoon Man Slipping On Banana

You might hear “damages” used like this, here’s what it means:

“What are the alleged damages in the case? What are the damages they are claiming?”

What amount of money and other payments are being assigned to the injuries, property loss, and other damage done? How much are they saying all this damage is worth?

“We are seeking $25,000 in damages.”

We believe the damage done through injuries, property and beyond equals $25,000, so that’s what we demand as repayment for the injury and loss of property.

“Did they recover damages?”

Did the injured party get compensated and repaid for what was done to them?

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