Home >> Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 8 >> Curzon to Danbury >> Damages

Damages

law, loss, treatise, injury, punitive, ages and jury

DAMAGES, the injury, recoverable by a person who has sustained an njury, either in his person, property or relative rights, through the act or default of another; also, the sum claimed as such • indemnity by a plaintiff in his complaint. Compensatory damages are damages allowed as a recompense for the injury actually received. Consequential damages are those which though directly, are not immediately, consequen tial upon the act or default complained of. Ex emplary, vindictive or punitive damages are, in legal contemplation, synonymous terms. Ex emplary damages would seem to mean such damages as would be a good round compensa tion, and an adequate remedy for the injury sustained and such as might serve for a whole some example to others in like cases.

Where injuries are maliciously, wantonly or recklessly inflicted, the right of the jury to award punitive damages is said to be as old as the right of trial by jury itself and is not, as some seem to suppose, an innovation upon the rules of the common law, In England as early as 1763, it was declared that the jury had done right in giving punitive damages. (Hackle v. Money, 2 Wils. 205.) And now, both in Eng land and in the United States, the doctrine of punitive damages seems to be well settled and the right of the jury to give such damages in a proper case cannot be shaken in any of the States by anything short of legislative enact ments.

General damages are those which necessarily and by implication of law result from the de fault or act complained of. Special damages are such as arise directly, but not necessarily, from the wrongful act or default complained of. Parties entering into an agreement may estimate beforehand the amount of damages to result from a breach of the agreement and may pre scribe in the agreement itself the sum to be paid by either of the parties to the other by way of damages for such breach. Such damages are called liquidated damages when sanctioned by the law. If, however, the agreement is such that the law refuses to adopt it, then the dam ages agreed upon will be regarded as. a penalty, or as in the nature of a penalty. Genaral•dam ages need not be alleged in the complaint of the person injured, nor is it necessary that any spe cific proof of damages be given to entitle the party injured to recover. The legal presump

tion of injury in cases where it arises is suffi cient to maintain the action. Whether special damage be the gist of the action, or only col lateral to it, it must be particularly stated in the complaint, as the plaintiff will not be permitted otherwise to go into evidence of it at the trial, because the defendant cannot also be prepared to answer it.

To constitute a right to recover damages, the party claiming damages must have sus tained a loss; the party against whom they are claimed must be chargeable with a wrong; the loss must be the natural and proximate cause of the wrong. Where there is no loss there is no right to damages, properly so called. A sum in which the wrong-doer is mulcted simply as a punishment for his wrong and irrespective of any loss caused thereby, is a •fine" or a rather than damages. Damages are based on the idea of a loss to be compensated, a damage to be made good. It is not necessary, however, that this loss should always be dis tinct and definite, capable of exact description, or of measurement in money. A sufficient loss may appear, from the case itself, to sustain an action. The law in many cases presumes a loss where a wilful wrong is proved; and thus dam ages are also awarded for injured feelings, bodily pain, grief of mind, injury to reputation and for other sufferings which cannot be made the subjects of exact proof and computation in respect to the amount of loss sustained. Con sult Harris, 'Treatise on Damages by Corpo rations' (Rochester 1894) ; Holmes, 'The Com mon Law' (Boston 1881) ; id., on Anglo-Saxon Law' (ib. 1876) ; Lee, 'Historical Jurisprudence' (New York 1900) ; Mayne, 'Treatise on the Law of Damages' (5th ed., London 1894) ; Sedgwick, 'Elements of Dam ages' (Boston 1896) ' • id., 'Treatise on the Measure of Damages' (8th ed., New York 1891) ; Sutherland, 'Treatise on the Law of Damages' (3d ed., Chicago 1903) ; Watson, 'Treatise on the Law of Damages for Personal Injuries' (Charlottesville 1901). See CorreAcr;