special damages

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Related to special damages: general damages, exemplary damages

Special Damages

Pecuniary compensation for injuries that follow the initial injury for which compensation is sought.

The terminology and classification of types of damages is varied, at times contradictory, and often confusing. The term "special damages" is one such term that can produce uncertainty, depending on the jurisdiction and context in which it is invoked.

Special damages are sought in lawsuits based on contract and tort. They are asked for in addition to "general damages." These two types are classified as Compensatory Damages and are both designed to return persons to the position they were in prior to the alleged injury. For example, if a person was injured in an automobile accident, the victim could seek damages that would cover medical expenses, damage to the motor vehicle, and the loss of earnings now and in the future. Each of these would be classified as special damages. If the victim sought a money award for pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of consortium, these would be classified as general damages. Thus, special damages are based on measurable dollar amounts of actual loss, while general damages are for intangible losses that can be inferred from special damages as well as other facts surrounding the case. In this description special damages are damages that are reduced to a "sum certain" before trial. This description is typically used in tort actions.

However, the definitions of special and general damages are reversed in contractual disputes. Thus, general damages in contract would include the difference between contract and market prices, the difference between the value of the goods as delivered and as warranted, and interest on money that has been wrongfully withheld. In contrast, special damages would include all other damages. In contract special damages and "consequential" damages are virtually interchangeable. In this context the losses flowing out of the breached contract could be compensated for as special damages. For example, the lost profits that resulted from the failure of the seller to deliver the goods could be claimed as special damages. However, it is commonplace for sellers to require buyers to sign a contract excluding the recovery of special or consequential damages.

In addition, special damages are sometimes described in statutes when the legislature seeks to identify specific types of awards that are available when the state or a private person violates a person's rights. For example, a statute may list the special damages plaintiffs are entitled to if their real property is improperly taken through Eminent Domain.

Further readings

Ball, David. 2001. David Ball on Damages. Denver, Colo.: National Institute for Trial Advocacy.

Dunn, Robert L. 1998. Recovery of Damages for Lost Profits. Westport, Conn.: Lawpress Corp.

Greene, Edie, and Brian H. Bornstein. 2002. Determining Damages: The Psychology of Jury Awards. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.


Lawsuit; Restitution.

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

special damages

n. damages claimed and/or awarded in a lawsuit which were out-of-pocket costs directly as the result of the breach of contract, negligence, or other wrongful act by the defendant. Special damages can include medical bills, repairs and replacement of property, loss of wages, and other damages which are not speculative or subjective. They are distinguished from general damages, in which there is no evidence of a specific dollar figure. (See: damages, general damages)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.

special damages

Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

SPECIAL DAMAGES. Such as actually have been suffered, and are not implied by law. Vide Damages, Special; and 1 Chit. Pl. 385; Com. Dig. Action on the case for Defamation, D 30, G 11.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
However, three maverick courts permit limited wrongful life claims that deny recovery of general damages (which include pain, suffering, and emotional distress) while granting special damages (which include medical expenses).
Health care costs that are included as an element of special damages should be calculated and reimbursed on the basis of the actual out-of-pocket cost--the predetermined fixed fee that the managed health care plan actually pays the provider--not the inflated "billed but never expended" cost.
The Fund sought a declaration that its liability was "strictly limited per the terms of paragraph 7 of its title insurance policy [the Diminution Provision]." (31) Relying on the Safeco decision, Hynes Properties argued that special damages were recoverable.
These records detail the procedures the client has undergone and define any special damages, as well as the collateral-source payments for damages.
After being awarded pounds 12,888 in general and special damages, the Strattons effectively left court empty-handed since the costs of the case exceeded the damages.
If the plaintiff incurred any expenses in hiring a housekeeper, those amounts would be added to the plaintiff's claim for special damages (discussed below).
Even if all of the claimed special damages are unblinkingly accepted as within the generously expansive province of a munificent jury - and this the court cannot do - the jury awarded close to $2 Million in pain and suffering to a highly anxious woman who had some past physical pain, but currently is no significant physical pain.
The sums already agreed included pounds 2,400 for a missing gold cigarette case, pounds 1,000 for missing Tibetan coins, pounds 150,000 for reducing the value of Mr Rowland's archive when personal letters were copied and pounds 100,000 special damages.
The jury also awarded special damages for loss of business of pounds 15,000.
In his original suit, the late Judge Calvin Schmidt sought general damages, special damages to be determined by proof at trial but not less than $200,000, plus punitive damages.
Judge Datuk Hadhariah Syed Ismail ordered GMP Kaisar Security (M) Sdn Bhd, which was named as the second defendant, to pay to Mohamad Amirul Amin RM70,000 in general damage, RM14,470 in special damages and RM30,000 in cost.
Special Damages: $2,817.42 medical bills for husband, $75 for wife

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