compensatory damages | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Civil Liability

Compensatory damages are a type of damages that are awarded in a civil lawsuit to compensate the plaintiff for losses or injuries that have been suffered as a result of the defendant’s actions.

The purpose of compensatory damages is to put the plaintiff in the position that they would have been in if the defendant had not caused the harm.

Compensatory damages may be awarded to compensate the plaintiff for a variety of losses, including medical expenses, lost wages or earning capacity, property damages, and pain and suffering. In some cases, compensatory damages may also be awarded to compensate the plaintiff for intangible losses, such as emotional distress or loss of reputation.

Compensatory damages are intended to provide the plaintiff with compensation for the actual harm that has been suffered and are distinct from punitive damages, which are designed to punish the defendant and deter future wrongdoing. The amount of compensatory damages that is awarded in a case will depend on the specific circumstances of the case and may be based on factors such as the plaintiff’s age, earning capacity, and the extent of the harm suffered.

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Last Modified: 01/08/2023


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