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Published on September 13, 2019

What Are Pecuniary and Non-Pecuniary Damages?

In a civil lawsuit, there are several types of damages that the claimant may seek. One of these is compensatory damages, and compensatory damages can be further categorized into pecuniary damages and non-pecuniary damages. The following will look at compensatory damages, define pecuniary damages and give a non-pecuniary damages definition.

Definition of Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages are damages that occur as a direct result of the injury sustained by a claimant who’s filing a civil suit. “Injury” in this sense doesn’t necessarily mean bodily injury, but can also include property damage, lost opportunity or many other losses. The common trait is that they’re all directly linked to the incident in question.

Compensatory damages are distinct from nominal damages (which are valid but difficult to value) and punitive damages (which intend to punish the wrongdoer and discourage a similar incident in the future).

Both pecuniary damages and non-pecuniary damages are types of compensatory damages.

Define Pecuniary Damages

Pecuniary damages are simply quantifiable compensatory damages. They can be measured in financial terms, and they’re included in most civil lawsuits. Some examples of pecuniary damages include:

  • Medical Costs, which may include ambulance bills, hospital bills, doctors’ bills medication expenses, etc.
  • Lost Wages, which usually include income that’s lost because the claimant can’t work as a result of the incident in question
  • Future Care Costs, which may be a concern if an injury results in long-term care needs
  • Physical Damage, which may include damage to any property owned by the claimant

In short, any expense that is directly linked to the incident in question and clearly quantifiable can be included when defining pecuniary damages.

Non-Pecuniary Damages Definition

Non-pecuniary damages are compensatory damages that can’t be clearly quantified in monetary terms. They tend to be difficult to measure because they’re more subjective and not straightforward costs. Some examples of these damages are:

  • Pain and Suffering, which may be awarded if the claimant experiences serious pain and/or suffering because of the incident
  • Emotional Distress, which may be awarded if the claimant experiences depression, anxiety or other emotional harm because of the incident
  • Impairment of Life, which may be awarded if the claimant experiences a long-term reduction in their quality of life because of the incident
  • Impairment of Relationships, which may be awarded if the claimant’s relationships with family, friends, colleagues or others deteriorate because of the incident
  • Impairment of Mental Abilities, which may be awarded if the claimant’s mental capabilities are reduced by the incident
  • Impairment of Physical Abilities, which may be awarded if the claimant’s physical capabilities are reduced by the incident
  • Loss of Future Wages, which may be awarded if the claimant’s ability to work in the future is diminished by the incident

Any other damage that’s incurred because of the incident and not easily measured might also be included in a non-pecuniary damages definition.

This article first appeared here: What Are Pecuniary and Non-Pecuniary Damages?

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