Speculative Damages

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Speculative Damages

Alleged injuries or losses that are uncertain or contingent and cannot be used as a basis of recovery for tort or contract actions.

An individual cannot be compensated for mere speculative probability of future loss unless he can prove that such negative consequences can reasonably be expected to occur. The amount of damages sought in a lawsuit need not be established with absolute certainty provided they are anticipated with reasonable certainty. Where the plaintiff cannot establish with reasonable certainty that any injury resulted from the act of omission complained of, he might be entitled to recover nominal damages. Mere uncertainty concerning the measure or extent of damages does not preclude their recovery in either tort or contract cases.

When an individual seeks to recover Compensatory Damages, she must establish evidence of their nature and extent as well as some data from which they can be calculated. No extensive recovery can be founded upon guesswork alone. Recovery must be backed with evidence that justifies an inference that the damage award is a fair and reasonable form of compensation for the injury incurred. In addition, when compensatory damages can be proved with approximate accuracy and determined with some degree of certainty, it is essential that they be so proved. If evidence of damage from various causes exists, but no evidence is available as to the portion of damage that the defendant caused, the proof is too uncertain to allow the jury to award damages against the defendant.

speculative damages

n. possible financial loss or expenses claimed by a plaintiff (person filing a lawsuit) which are contingent upon a future occurrence, purely conjectural, or highly improbable. Speculative damages should not be awarded, and jury instructions should so state. Examples: a) plaintiff believes that ten years hence, as he ages, he may begin to feel pain from a healed fracture although no physician has testified that this is likely to happen; b) plaintiff claims that defendant's failure to deliver products for sale may hurt plaintiff's reputation with future customers. (See: damages)

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