When someone suffers harm or injury due to another person’s actions, they may seek compensation for their losses under civil law. Damages are the financial compensation awarded to the victim to help them recover from the harm caused by the defendant. In this article, we will explore the types of damages awarded in civil law and the methods used to calculate them.
Types of Damages
Compensatory damages are awarded to the plaintiff to compensate for their actual losses caused by the defendant. This type of damage aims to put the plaintiff back in the same financial position they were in before the harm occurred. Compensatory damages are divided into two categories:
Special damages are the quantifiable losses suffered by the plaintiff, such as medical expenses, loss of income, and property damage. These losses can be easily calculated and verified by documents such as bills, receipts, and pay stubs.
General damages refer to non-quantifiable losses suffered by the plaintiff, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of consortium. Unlike special damages, general damages are more subjective and challenging to calculate.
Punitive damages are awarded to punish the defendant for their intentional or grossly negligent actions. This type of damage is meant to deter the defendant and others from engaging in similar conduct in the future. Punitive damages are typically awarded in cases involving fraud, malice, or reckless behavior.
Calculation of Damages
Calculating damages can be a complex process that involves many factors, including the type of damages awarded, the severity of the harm caused, and the plaintiff’s age, occupation, and earning capacity. There are two primary methods used to calculate damages:
The Multiplier Method
The multiplier method is used to calculate general damages, such as pain and suffering. This method involves multiplying the plaintiff’s special damages by a number between one and five, depending on the severity of the harm caused. For example, if the plaintiff’s medical expenses total $10,000, and the harm caused is severe, the multiplier used might be four, resulting in general damages of $40,000.
The Per Diem Method
The per diem method is used to calculate damages for ongoing harm, such as pain and suffering, that the plaintiff will continue to suffer in the future. This method involves calculating a daily rate for the harm suffered and multiplying it by the number of days the plaintiff is expected to experience the harm. For example, if the plaintiff is expected to suffer from chronic pain for ten years, and the daily rate of their pain is $100, the damages awarded would be $365,000.
Damages are an essential component of civil law and serve to compensate victims for their losses caused by the defendant’s actions. There are two primary types of damages awarded in civil law: compensatory and punitive damages. The calculation of damages can be a complicated process, involving many factors and methods such as the multiplier and per diem methods.
- What is the difference between compensatory and punitive damages? Compensatory damages are awarded to compensate the plaintiff for their actual losses, while punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant for their intentional or grossly negligent actions.
- How are special damages calculated? Special damages are calculated based on the quantifiable losses suffered by the plaintiff, such as medical expenses, loss of income, and property damage.
- What is the multiplier method? The multiplier method is used to calculate general damages, such as pain and suffering, by multiplying the plaintiff’s special damages by a number between one and five.