Nominal Damages in a Personal Injury Case – Personal Injury Lawyers
Filing a Lawsuit Based on Principle, for Nominal or Insignificant Damages Suffered
Simply put, nominal damages are damages that are very minuscule damages which are often mere dollars that are awarded when a wrong has occurred, but there is actually no financial loss. If the court awards you nominal damages you will typically only receive $1 or $2. Occasionally, the court may award you nominal damages, but set the amount at zero.
When you sue for nominal damages you are essentially filing a lawsuit based on principle. You believe that you have been wronged and deserve the vindication. Not every wrongful or negligent act results in a financial loss. But in order to file a valid lawsuit, you must have a standing which means that you must have suffered an injury.
Typically, if you have not suffered a financial loss, then you would not have valid standing. Consequently, in order to file a claim and hold the defendant accountable for their actions you may file a suit based on nominal damages.
So Why Sue For Nominal Damages?
You obviously have to be wondering why anyone would go through a lawsuit to only be awarded $1 or $2. It almost seems silly to file a claim, hire a lawyer, and potentially spend months fighting the defendant in court when you would not receive any significant amount of money. So why sue?
Well, there are two strong reasons for filing a claim. First, the court might choose to award punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded, not to compensate the plaintiff, but instead to punish the defendant.
Possible Punitive Damages
Although you may not need compensation for any actual injuries, you can benefit from suing the defendant through punitive damages. These types of damages may be awarded if the defendant was grossly negligent, intentionally disregarded the safety of the plaintiff, or intentionally hurt the plaintiff.
While you are not guaranteed to be awarded punitive damages when you file a suit based on nominal damages, this is a possibility. Furthermore, you should consider this potential award of damages when evaluating the legitimacy of your claim and deciding whether it is personally worth it to you to file suit.
Suing for Nominal Damages May Help Protect Your Rights
Finally, you might file a suit based on nominal damages because you believe your rights have been violated. For example, many people will sue the city or state when they believe that their constitutional rights have been violated.
In this scenario, they are very unlikely to be awarded any actual damages. However, they determine that filing a suit for nominal damages is worth of their time and effort in order to protect their personal rights or interests.
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