Damage vs. Damages

Damage and damages are often confused. The term damage describes harm or injury to property or a person.

“The damage incurred by the claimant was estimated to be £100,000.”

On the other hand, damages denotes monetary compensation awarded by a court for the damage which has been suffered.

“The damages sought were in excess of one million dollars.”

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Jo


    I completely agree with the above definition, however, as many of our lawyers here use the term ‘damages’ to refer to what you have described as ‘damage’, which I repeatedly correct, I was keen to make sure that I was indeed correct to correct this error! In looking into this, I came across this definition from Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary:

    1) In a lawsuit, the harm caused to a party who is injured. 2) In a lawsuit, the money awarded to one party based on injury or loss caused by the other. For either definition, there are many different types or categories of damages.

    I would be interested to hear if you agree that ‘damages’ can be used instead of ‘damage’ to describe injury/loss.-

    Many thanks in advance.

    Curious Jo

    1. Peter Dahlen

      Thanks for your comment, Jo.

      As you know, this is a classic mistake — my colleagues and I (we’re all US or UK lawyers) come across this all the time.

      According to Black’s Law Dictionary and The Redbook, “damages” means “Money claimed by, or ordered to be paid to, a person as compensation for loss or injury”. In other words, damages represent the sum of money which a person harmed is entitled to receive as compensation. Damage, on the other hand, is the harm itself.

      In this instance, Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary is wrong. You can see the entry in our Legal English dictionary here: http://www.translegal.com/legal-english-dictionary/damages

      Appreciate the feedback. Please let us know if you have questions about anything else on our site.



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