Damages vs. Damage
Hi, this is Peter and welcome to TransLegal's Lesson of the Week.
Today we're going to be talking about damage and damages. This is a mistake or two terms that people mistake on a regular basis. In fact, I've just dealt with it this week, and I think the important distinction to start with is just definitions.
Damage is harm or injury to a person or property.
Damages are the monetary compensation awarded by a court for the damage.
So one classic example that many of you have probably heard of for damage or damages would be the infamous McDonald's hot coffee case in which Stella Liebeck spilled some hot coffee from McDonald's on her legs and she suffered third-degree or full-thickness burns to her skin and so this was the harm or injury to her person. She then sued McDonald's for damages. And that is the compensation that she wanted to make up for her harm or injury. The court awarded her damages to compensate her for the harm, the physical harm as well as the medical expenses that she had incurred in order to treat her injuries -- this is what was commonly referred to in the press as the two million dollar hot coffee case. Of course it wasn't actually that much in the end because the court reduced the jury's award. But in the end Stella Liebeck did receive monetary compensation, damages, for the harm incurred as a result of spilling the hot coffee on her legs.
So that's a short overview of the difference between damage and damages. If you have questions, as you might because this is pretty confusing, even for native English speakers, please, as always, leave your questions or comments in the comments section below and one of us will get back to you as soon as we can. Thanks.