general and special damages

Quick Reference

A classification of damages awarded for a tort or a breach of contract, the meaning of which varies according to the context.

1 General damages are given for losses that the law will presume are the natural and probable consequence of a wrong. Thus it is assumed that a libel is likely to injure the reputation of the person libelled, and damages can be recovered without proof that the claimant's reputation has in fact suffered. Special damages are given for losses that are not presumed but have been specifically proved.

2 General damages may also mean damages given for a loss that is incapable of precise estimation, such as pain and suffering or loss of reputation. In this context special damages are damages given for losses that can be quantified, such as out-of-pocket expenses or earnings lost during the period between the injury and the hearing of the action.

Subjects: Law.

Reference entries