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Definition of Damages

Damages are compensation awarded to the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit if the courts or jury decide the defendant's negligence caused the plaintiff's injury or loss. Compensation or reparation payments can include compensatory damages which include replacement costs and medical costs, punitive damages which are used to punish the defendant, special damages which include wage loss, statutory damages which are required by law and exemplary damages.

To receive damages in a personal injury case the plaintiff must prove the defendant's behavior was negligent and their negligence was the proximate cause of the plaintiff's injuries. For a defendant to avoid paying damages to the plaintiff they have to prove they were not at fault, the plaintiff did not suffer loss, the amount of recovery is incorrect or unfair or the plaintiff's injuries were caused by their own failure.

Consider, some states have different laws to determine how compensation is awarded in a personal injury case. For instance, some states use a pure contributory system and the plaintiff may not be entitled to any damages if the defense proves they were partially responsible for their own injuries.

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