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An amount of money to compensate an injured party for either property damage or bodily injury.


Objective is to restore an injured party to the same financial situation prior to the loss. The two categories of compensatory damages are as follows:

Special Damages

Special Damages are damages that can be  measured, such as medical expenses, restoration of property, loss of earnings, etc.

General Damages

General Damages are any amounts awarded to compensate for what cannot be easily measured, in other words--the intangibles.  These awards are intended to reimburse the injured party for their pain and suffering, loss of consortium, disfigurement, and other inconveniences that result from the loss.  

Punitive or Exemplary

Punitive damages are amounts over and above compensatory and intended to punish the wrongdoer or offending party of a claim.  When an offending party injures another due to their blatantly careless and wonton behavior or their willingness to disregard the safety of others, an award may be offered to the injured with the intention of punishing the wrongdoer and to deter any similar acts.  It may also be offered to set an example to others in attempt to deter similar activities.

There are some states that do not allow the courts to award punitive damages.  Most states do not allow punitive damages to be paid by an insurance policy as the purpose set forth as punishment would be diminished if proceeds were paid out by the insurance carrier.

Strict Tort Liability

When a wrongdoer is held responsible for an injury without the claimant proving carelessness or fault.  This doctrine is often imposed on sellers, manufacturers, and distributors of products holding them responsible for almost all product liability claims arising out of the product being defective or hazardous and those that unduly threaten the safety to the consumer.  There are a few defenses with respect to product liability claims including usage and/or modification of the product by the consumer.    

Absolute Liability

Responsibility without regard to negligence or fault resulting from certain situations such as the the storage, transportation, and/or usage of explosives, firearms, and wild animals including dangerous breeds of pets.    

Vicarious Liability     

When a party is held responsible for the negligent acts of others.  A parent can be held liable for the acts of their minor child.  

Imputed Negligence

The transfer of negligence from one party to another such as from an employee to an employer.  If the employee commits a negligent act during their scope of employment, the negligence may be imputed to the employer.   

The explanations written by William F. Schaake, CIC, CRM herein is intended to provide a basic understanding of the terms and concepts. This information provided is not intended to provide legal advice or opinions. Please check with your legal council and the terms and conditions of your insurance contract.  © 11/19/2011