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Tort Liability Basics: Remedy Alternatives for Successful Plaintiffs

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If a plaintiff prevails, he will be awarded damages to compensate him for his losses. Damages may take the form of compensatory damages, punitive damages and even equitable relief.

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages attempt to compensate a plaintiff, in monetary terms, for the actual losses suffered by the plaintiff because of the defendant's actions.

Example - Ninth Circuit Model Civil Jury Instructions § § 7.1-7.2
Damages means the amount of money which will reasonably and fairly compensate the plaintiff for any injury you find was caused by the defendant. You should consider the following:

The nature and extent of the injuries.

The disability, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life experienced and which with reasonable probability will be experienced in the future.

The mental, physical, and emotional pain and suffering experienced and which with reasonable probability will be experienced in the future.

The reasonable value of necessary medical care, treatment, and services received to the present time.

The reasonable value of necessary medical care, treatment, and services which with reasonable probability will be required in the future.

The reasonable value of wages, earnings, earning capacity, salaries, employment, business opportunities, and employment opportunities lost to the present time.

The reasonable value of wages, earnings, earning capacity, salaries, employment, business opportunities, and employment opportunities which with reasonable probability will be lost in the future.

The reasonable value of necessary household help and services other than medical and expenses required to the present time.

The reasonable value of necessary household help and services other than medical and expenses which with reasonable probability will be required in the future.

The reasonable value of necessary repairs to any property which was damaged.

The difference between the fair market value of any damaged property immediately before the occurrence and its fair market value immediately thereafter.

The reasonable value of necessary repairs to any property which was damaged plus the difference between the fair market value of the property immediately before the occurrence and its fair market value after it is repaired.

The lesser of the following:

1. the reasonable cost of necessary repairs to any property which was damaged plus the difference between the fair market value of the property immediately before the occurrence and its fair market value after it is repaired; or

2. the difference between the fair market value of the property immediately before the occurrence and the fair market value of the unrepaired property immediately after the occurrence.

Such sum as will reasonably compensate for any loss of use of any damaged property during the time reasonably required for its repair or replacement.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are awarded as a punishment for outrageous behavior and a deterrent to the defendant and others not to repeat the mistake.

Examples - Ninth Circuit Model Civil Jury Instructions § 7.5
The purposes of punitive damages are to punish a defendant and to deter a defendant and others from committing similar acts in the future.

You may award punitive damages only if you find that defendant's conduct was malicious, or in reckless disregard of plaintiff's rights. Conduct is malicious if it is accompanied by ill will, or spite, or if it is for the purpose of injuring another. Conduct is in reckless disregard of plaintiff's rights if, under the circumstances, it reflects complete indifference to the safety and rights of others.

If you find that punitive damages are appropriate, you must use reason in setting the amount. Punitive damages, if any, should be in an amount sufficient to fulfill their purposes but should not reflect bias, prejudice or sympathy toward any party. In considering punitive damages, you may consider the degree of reprehensibility of the defendant's conduct and the relationship of any award of punitive damages to any actual harm inflicted on the plaintiff.

Equitable Relief

If money alone cannot compensate a plaintiff's loss, courts may order the defendant to do or refrain from doing some act relevant to the case. For example, the court can order a newspaper to print a retraction, or order a business to stop dumping waste into a river.

Copyright 1999 FindLaw Inc.

These materials have been prepared for educational and information purposesonly. They are not legal advice or legal opinions on any specific matters.Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and receipt does notconstitute, a lawyer-client relationship between FindLaw, the author(s), orinc.com and you. Internet subscribers and online readers should not act upon thisinformation without seeking professional counsel. The opinions expressed in thearticles found in FindLaw's Library and inc.com's database are those of theauthor(s) and not those of FindLaw or inc.com.

Last updated: Nov 1, 1999




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