Speculative Damages

Also found in: Wikipedia.

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.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

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)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
In Missouri, they wrote, parties may not recover speculative damages such as child-rearing costs.
The government appealed, arguing that most of the $143 million damage award should be thrown out because the utilities used a speculative damages
In contrast, the dark specter of speculative damages haunting indirect damages is also of little concern to umbrella damages.
SPECULATIVE DAMAGES Damages are speculative if there is no clear relationship between the violation and harm suffered by the plaintiff.
The court stated that the fact that the "hedonic value" of life is difficult to measure did not make Smith's testimony or the damages award speculative, since "the rule against recovery of speculative damages is generally directed against uncertainty as to cause rather than uncertainty as to measure or extent."
(27) For an extensive examination of speculative damages, see Roger D.