In a lawsuit, money awarded to one party based on injury or loss caused by the other. There are many different types or categories of damages that occasionally overlap, including: compensatory damages Damages that cover actual injury or economic loss. Compensatory damages are intended to put the injured party in the position he was in prior to the injury. Compensatory damages typically include medical expenses, lost wages and the repair or replacement of property. Also called "actual damages."general damages Damages intended to cover injuries for which an exact dollar amount cannot be calculated. General damages are usually composed of pain and suffering, but can also include compensation for a shortened life expectancy, loss of the companionship of a loved one and, in defamation cases (libel and slander), loss of reputation. nominal damages A term used when a judge or jury finds in favor of one party to a lawsuit--often because a law requires them to do so--but concludes that no real harm was done and therefore awards a very small amount of money. For example, if one neighbor sues another for libel based on untrue things the second neighbor said about the first, a jury might conclude that although libel technically occurred, no serious damage was done to the first neighbor's reputation and consequentially award nominal damages of $1.00.punitive damages Sometimes called exemplary damages, awarded over and above special and general damages to punish a losing party's willful or malicious misconduct.special damages Damages that cover the winning party's out-of-pocket costs. For example, in a vehicle accident, special damages typically include medical expenses, car repair costs, rental car fees and lost wages. Often called "specials."statutory damages Damages required by statutory law. For example, in many states if a landlord doesn't return a tenant's security deposit in a timely fashion or give a reason why it is being withheld, the state statutes give the judge authority to order the landlord to pay damages of double or triple the amount of the deposit.treble damages Lawyerspeak for triple damages. To penalize lawbreakers, statutes occasionally give judges the power to award the winning party in a civil lawsuit the amount it lost as a result of the other party's illegal conduct, plus damages of three times that amount.
See doing business as.
death taxes
Taxes levied at death, based on the value of property left behind. Federal death taxes are called estate taxes. Some states levy inheritance taxes on people who inherit property.
A type of bond (an interest-bearing document that serves as evidence of a debt) that does not require security in the form of a mortgage or lien on a specific piece of property. Repayment of a debenture is guaranteed only by the general credit of the issuer. For example, a corporation may issue a secured bond that gives the bondholder a lien on the corporation’s factory. But if it issues a debenture, the loan is not secured by any property at all. When a corporation issues debentures, the holders are considered creditors of the corporation and are entitled to payment before shareholders if the business folds.
debit card
A card issued by a bank that combines the functions of an ATM card and checks. A debit card can be used to withdraw cash at a bank like an ATM card, and it can also be used at stores to pay for goods and services in place of a check. Unlike a credit card, a debit card automatically withdraws money from your checking account at the time of the transaction. Debit cards are regulated by the Electronic Funds Transfer Act.
debt collector
A person who works in the in-house collections department of an original creditor or a collection agency to track down debtors and get them to pay what they owe. Debt collectors can be relentless, often using scare tactics, humiliation and repeated phone calls to extract payments or promises to pay.
A person or entity (such as a corporation) who owes money.
A person who has died, also called "deceased."
The outcome of a proceeding before a judge, arbitrator, government agency or other legal tribunal. "Decision" is a general term often used interchangeably with the terms judgment or "opinion." To be precise, however, a judgment is the written form of the court’s decision in the clerk’s minutes or notes, and an opinion is a written document setting out the reasons for reaching the decision.
declaration under penalty of perjury
A signed statement, sworn to be true by the signer, that will make the signer guilty of the crime of perjury if the statement is shown to be materially false -- that is, the lie is relevant and significant to the case.
declaratory judgment
A court decision in a civil case that tells the parties what their rights and responsibilities are, without awarding damages or ordering them to do anything. Unlike most court cases, where the plaintiff asks for damages or other court orders, the plaintiff in a declaratory judgment case simply wants the court to resolve an uncertainty so that it can avoid serious legal trouble in the future. Courts are usually reluctant to hear declaratory judgment cases, preferring to wait until there has been a measurable loss. But especially in cases involving important constitutional rights, courts will step in to clarify the legal landscape. For example, many cities regulate the right to assemble by requiring permits to hold a parade. A disappointed applicant who thinks the decision-making process is unconstitutional might hold his parade anyway and challenge the ordinance after he’s cited; or he might ask a court beforehand to rule on the constitutionality of the law. By going to court, the applicant may avoid a messy confrontation with the city -- and perhaps a citation, as well.
dedimus potestatum
An outdated legal procedure that permitted a party to take and record the testimony of a witness before trial, but only when that testimony might otherwise be lost. For example, a party to a lawsuit might use the procedure to obtain the testimony of a witness who was terminally ill and might not be able to testify at the trial. Nowadays, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure routinely permit the taking of testimony before trial if that testimony might otherwise be lost.
Something that is taken away or subtracted. Under an insurance policy, for example, the deductible is the maximum amount that an insured person must pay toward his own losses before he can recover from the insurer. For example, Julie's car insurance policy has a $500 deductible. One day she forgets to set her parking brake and the car rolls backwards into a telephone pole, sustaining $2,500 in damage. Julie's insurance company deducts $500 from the total amount and issues a check to the auto body shop for $2,000.
In tax law, an amount that you can subtract from the total amount of income on which you owe tax. Examples of federal income tax deductions include mortgage interest, charitable contributions, and certain state taxes.
A document that transfers ownership of real estate.