Compensatory aka Actual Damages – the total damages recoverable in satisfaction of, or in recompense for, loss or injury sustained, including all damages, except nominal damages, punitive, or exemplary damages

compensatory damages:

l. Damages sufficient in amount to indemnify the injured person for the loss suffered. – Often shortened to compensatories.

2. See actual damages. [1]

1. The damages recoverable in satisfaction of, or in recompense for, loss or injury sustained, including all damages, except nominal damages, punitive, or exemplary damages.  22 Am J2d Damg § 11.

Damages awarded not only as a recompense for actual injury to the person or property, including expenses, loss of time, bodily suffering, etc., occasioned by the defendant’s wrongful act, but also such additional sum as in the opinion of the jury is warranted by the circumstances of contumely, anguish or oppression, including mental suffering and wounded sensibilities.  Murphy v Hobbs, 7 Colo 541, 5 P 119. [2]

3. Damages recoverable in a lawsuit for loss or injury suffered by the plaintiff as a result of the defendant’s conduct.  Also called actual damages, they may include expenses, loss of time, reduced earning capacity, bodily injury, and mental anguish.
     Compare punitive damages.[3]

actual damages:

1. An amount awarded to a complainant to compensate for a proven injury or loss; damages that repay actual losses. — aka compensatory damages; tangible damages; real damages. [1]

1. Monetary compensation for a loss or injury which a plaintiff has suffered rather than a sum of money awarded by way of punishing a defendant or to deter others. [2]

1. Damages in compensation for the loss or injury suffered rather than those allowed by way of punishment of the defendant or deterring others.  22 Am J2d Damg § 11. [3]

Related Terms:

measurable damages – damages whose amount can be determined with a high degree of certainty.

lawful damages – those damages fixed by law and ascertained in a court of law.

pecuniary damages – damages that can be estimated and monetarily compensated, as opposed to nonpecuniary damages, which require nonmonetary (equitable) remedies; the term “pecuniary loss” is often used in wrongful death cases.


Notice: All material throughout this website is pertinent to people everywhere, and is being utilized in accordance with Fair Use.

[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black & Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-62130-6

[2]:  Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.

[3]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations
Third Edition by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931


Back to Types of Damages

Civil Proceedings (Torts) Self-Help

Criminal Proceedings Self-Help

Intro to Law

Like this website?

Please Support Our Fundraiser

or donate via PayPal:

  • please set some widgets to show from Appearance -> Widgets.

Disclaimer: Wild Willpower does not condone the actions of Maximilian Robespierre, however the above quote is excellent!

This website is being broadcast for First Amendment purposes courtesy of

Question(s)? Suggestion(s)?
Want to offer financial support?
We look forward to hearing from you!