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Negligence Remedies, Part 1: Compensatory Damages


Compensatory damages is the legal term for damages–usually in the form of money–that a plaintiff receives to compensate him (or her) for all harm proximately caused by the defendant’s negligence and other wrongful acts. This may include personal injury, damage to property, and any other harm or damage recognized by the law and the court.

Compensatory damages are designed to make a plaintiff whole–by assigning a monetary value to the plaintiff’s personal injuries and/or property damage. Calculation of damages can be difficult, especially when personal injury or bodily harm is involved. Often, expert analysis and expert testimony is required. Never attempt to evaluate your personal injuries or potential damages on your own. Always consult an attorney promptly–and seek prompt, appropriate medical attention for your injuries.


Courts generally award compensatory damages to prevailing Plaintiffs–meaning, plaintiffs who “win” at trial by proving all of the elements of their claims for damages. In a negligence case, this means a plaintiff who proves all of the required elements of the negligence claim–including the existence of legally recognizable damages.

A plaintiff must suffer actual harm in order to receive an award of damages. The damages must be real and measurable. Minimal, or nominal, damages are not generally sufficient to support an award of compensatory damages.


Generally, a plaintiff cannot recover damages for emotional distress in a negligence case unless the defendant’s negligence also caused bodily injury or bodily harm. If the plaintiff’s only damages are emotional, and the only damages claim is one for emotional distress, the plaintiff’s ability to recover damages from the defendant may be more difficult, and more limited.

If you have suffered emotional distress as the result of someone’s negligent actions, consult an attorney for a specific evaluation of your legal rights and potential claims.


Disclaimer: THIS ARTICLE IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY, AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE OR CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE AUTHOR AND ANY PERSON. Your rights and experiences may vary. Never use an online article (including this one) to evaluate your legal claims. Speak with an experienced lawyer promptly to obtain a personalized evaluation of your claims, possible damages, and options. You may lose or compromise your rights if you delay in consulting legal counsel. Negligence claims are complicated and fact-dependent. If you believe you have a claim against someone who injured you, a lawyer who represented you in a previous lawsuit, or any other type of legal claim, consult an experienced lawyer immediately for an evaluation of your personal rights and claims.

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