In private lawsuits, those in which one person files a claim against another, damages are sought depending on the circumstances of the case. If you are injured or if the other party breaches a contract, you could be entitled to compensation due to the losses you suffered. Below is a list of the 10 most common types of damages that are sought in private lawsuits.
1. Actual damages: In tort law cases, actual damages can be recovered. For instance, a driver hits a bicyclist and causes injuries to the rider and his/her bike. If the bicyclist pays $14,000 in medical bills and $2,500 to replace the bicycle, the driver of the car would be required to pay $16,500 in actual damages.
2. Breach of contract damages – In this situation, damages are sought from one side of a contractual agreement between two parties. For instance, a homeowner hires a contractor to do work inside of his or her home. If the condition “time is of the essence,” is written in the contract and the contractor does not get the work done is a timely fashion, the homeowner may be able to recover damages in court because the contract was breached. There are many different types of contract breaches, including: material breach, fundamental, and anticipatory breach.
3. Specific performance – This is a type of legal remedy that is used when monetary damages do not fix the plaintiff’s circumstance. For instance, say a woman offer to buys a home and the seller accepts her offer, but then the seller changes his or her mind. Because real estate is considered “unique,” and monetary compensation would not adequately compensate the woman who wishes to buy the house, the court would rule that the homeowner must go through with the sale.
4. Injunction: Similar to specific performance, monetary compensation is not appropriate in an injunction. For instance, if neighbor A wants to cut down neighbor B’s large tree, neighbor B can seek an injunction that would prevent neighbor A from cutting down the tree. Rather than compensation, neighbor B is being awarded an injunction that prevents neighbor A from cutting down the tree – an action that neighbor B did not want to happen.
5. Pain and suffering – As the result of an injury an individual sustained, he or she most likely experienced pain and suffering. To make up for that discomfort, pain and suffering damages can be recovered. The most common method insurance companies use to calculate pain and suffering damages is called the “multiplier method.” This method involves adding up all of the easily calculable economic losses (wages, medical bills) and multiply this number with a second number, called the multiplier. This number is between 1.5 and 5. The damages the plaintiff recovers will be dependent upon the seriousness of his or her injuries and the overall impact the injury had on his or her life.
6. Emotional distress – In some cases, physical injuries are not the only reason a plaintiff seeks compensation; emotional distress damages can also be sought. For example, if a mother witness a car running over her child, this could cause extreme emotional trauma. Emotional distress damages could be recovered in this situation.
7. Lost wages – If an individual is injured in an accident, of which causes him or her to miss three months of work, the person(s) responsible for the injury may be required to compensate the plaintiff for the wages he or she missed out on.
8. Wrongful death – Damages in a wrongful death lawsuit result when a defendant causes the death of a victim either negligently or intentionally. The victim’s estate, family members or heirs will seek a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the victim.
9. Punitive damages – These damages are unlike monetary damages in that they are meant to punish the defendant. If the defendant caused intentional harm or if injury was sure to happen as a result of the defendant’s negligence, punishment is appropriate to deter similar behavior or actions from continuing. Laws regarding punitive damages vary widely from state to state.
10. Loss of companionship/consortium – If person’s family member is killed because of the negligence of another party, compensation can be sought for the loss of that family member. Because this family member is gone, so is his or her companionship. Financial damages can be awarded in certain situations.