Damages Definition

In a lawsuit, "damages" refers to 1) the harm an injured party suffers because of another party's wrongful conduct; and 2) the money awarded to one party because of an injury or loss caused by another party.

For example, in a personal injury lawsuit: the injured person (the plaintiff) usually sues a wrongdoer (the defendant) for "damages" including:

  • the cost of medical care made necessary by the wrongful conduct
  • any resulting lost income or other financial harm, and
  • mental and physical pain and suffering caused by the defendant's conduct and the plaintiff's resulting injuries.

And if the plaintiff's lawsuit is successful at trial, the court will order the defendant to pay the plaintiff a certain amount in "damages."

There are many different types or categories of damages. See: actual damages, compensatory damages, general damages, punitive damages, special damages.