Damages - American business
Damages, for legal purposes, are compensatory or punitive monetary awards. Persons suffering loss or injury (for example, in a car accident) sue in court to recover damages to which they are entitled by law. Damages can be awarded by court order for personal or property losses, for breach of CONTRACTs
, and the loss of legal rights (such as COPYRIGHT
infringement). Damages will only be awarded if the defendant acted unlawfully, negligently or in breach of contract and caused the damages alleged. “Actual damages” refers to real damages suffered. In some cases, courts and juries may award “punitive” or “exemplary” damages when the defendant’s conduct was outrageous and future deterrence is desired. Punitive damages are often a multiple of actual damages. At the other extreme, “nominal damages” may be awarded when little actual loss occurs. Some statutes, such as the federal ANTITRUST LAWs
, mandate automatic trebling of actual damages, a kind of controlled version of punitive damages.