Damage Awards

Damage awards function as a remedy for wrongdoing in civil lawsuits; they constitute money awarded to an injured party as compensation for injuries or other losses (“compensatory” damages). They can also serve as punishment for the wrongdoer (“punitive” damages). These awards are made mostly by juries and occasionally by judges who previously determined that a wrongdoer was liable for damages. Determining damages—especially for intangible injuries such as pain and suffering—can be difficult, and juries have been criticized for issuing awards that seem extravagant and unpredictable. Although some of the criticisms are unfounded (e.g., jurors are not especially sympathetic toward plaintiffs), jurors occasionally do experience difficulty in applying jury instructions and following procedures that blindfold them to the consequences of their verdicts. Reforms intended to address ...

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