Hammer and gavel used in a case involving tort law damages
  • James Notaris

    CPA, ESQ. Legal Editor

  • Steve Longo

    Executive Editor

    In Brief:

  • Tort law damages play a key role in tort law in the United States.

  • Damages are a form of compensation awarded to the injury party in tort law cases.

  • We examine tort law damages in detail here!

In tort law, the plaintiff is typically looking for some sort of compensation to make up for some sort of injuries that they’ve suffered. These come in the form of damages, but deciding which types of damages the plaintiff is entitled to may not be as clear cut as it seems. Here’s a quick look at the types of tort damages that a plaintiff can recover!

What are Damages in Tort Law?

In tort law, damages are a form of award, usually in the form of money, that’s paid as compensation for a loss or injury. 

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What Types of Damages Can a Plantiff Recover?

Damages in tort law are usually classified into two general categories: compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are then further divided into special damages and general damages. 


Compensatory damages are the most common form of compensation in tort law cases. Their goal is to bring the plaintiff before the injury occured to help compensate them for any hardship they’ve endured. Compensatory damages come in the form of both special and general damages. Special damages are defined as financial losses, such as a loss of wages, medical expenses, and property damage. On the other hand, general damages are used for noneconomic damage such as emotional distress. 


Punitive damages are a different, rarer form of damages awarded to the plaintiff under special circumstances. These damages typically aren’t meant as a way to compensate an injury party for a loss in a tort law case, but rather to punish a defendant who blatantly acted recklessly or maliciously. These types of damages are typically seen as a warning to deter others from acting in the same way as the punished defendant did.

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