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Types of Damages

Damages may be awarded to compensate victims and, in some cases, to punish wrongdoers.If jurors - or judges sitting in non-jury bench trials - find for the plaintiff on the issue of liability, then they must decide damages.  In general, there are two types of damages that may be awarded depending upon the facts of a particular case:

  1. Compensatory Damages - designed to compensate the victim; and
  2. Punitive Damages - designed to punish the wrongdoer.
In most cases, where damages result from negligence or unintentional conduct on the part of others, compensatory damages are the sole means of recovery.  It is, indeed, the rare case involving intentional misconduct or fraud in which punitive damages are appropriate to punish the wrongdoer and to deter future misconduct.

Compensatory damages are designed to compensate victims for injuries and property damage sustained.Compensatory damages are designed to compensate those harmed by the actions of others.


Punitive damages punish those guilty of fraud and other intentional torts.Like its name suggests, "punitive damages" are designed to punish those guilty of assault, battery, fraud and other intentional misconduct.


Wrongful death damage awards compensate family members and the estate for pain, suffering and monetary loss.Damages must fairly compensate for the emotional, suffering and economic loss arising from the tragedy.