What Are Exemplary Damages?

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When a case goes before a Judge it must be determined if the Plaintiff suffered any damages. If the Plaintiff did suffer damages, then the Court will award the Plaintiff a remedy. Oftentimes, the remedy is monetary. The defendant and/or their insurance company is then responsible for paying out a monetary amount to the prevailing Plaintiff.  

What type of damages are available to an injured Plaintiff?

There are four types of monetary remedies an injured Plaintiff might receive. These include: 

  • General damages 
  • Pecuniary damages 
  • Aggravated damages 
  • Loss of wages/income 
  • Exemplary damages  
  • Nominal or contemptuous damages 

When a defendant owes damages, the type of damages they owe will be defined by the Court. The amount of damages they owe can be determined by a Judge or a Jury.  

What Can Be Considered Damages?

With the exception of exemplary damages, the majority of damages are awarded to make up for a loss that the Plaintiff suffered. Most of these losses are calculable by using wage statements or receipts from medical care or medically oriented necessary purchases. Some of these losses include the loss of, or a loss resulting from; 

  • Wages 
  • Enjoyment of life and prior activities 
  • Physical abilities lost as a result of the injury 
  • Shortened life span due to medical issues 
  • Pain and suffering 
  • Medical costs including physician and hospital bills 
  • Treatment costs including medical, pharmaceutical, the need for a health care aid 
  • Increased distress 

How are Exemplary Damages Different from Other Types of Damages?

Exemplary damages are of a different nature. Exemplary damages result from the actions of the defendant that the Court deems reprehensible and might want to deter the defendant or others from engaging in. So, in essence, exemplary damages are for the purpose of “making an example” out of the defendant so as to curb the behavior of both the defendant and others. These damages are not necessarily calculable by using a wage statement or an invoice for items or services.  

Instead, exemplary damages are at the discretion of the Court. However, if a Court is going to levy exemplary damages against a defendant, the reasoning for doing so must be solid and defendable. The Australian Government and the Australian Law Reform Commission has spoken to this concern.  As such, exemplary damages are only to be used in situations where the Court feels that the behavior of the defendant was so egregious, that the Plaintiff is entitled to an additional award of damages to make them whole. To take this stance and levy these types of damages against a defendant, the Court must be convinced that the other remedies provided are insufficient. While this might not happen often, the Court has been vested with the power to apply exemplary damages when deemed necessary and warranted.  

In the event that you find yourself in need of assistance, please contact the law offices of Owen Hodge Lawyers. At Owen Hodge, we are always happy to assist clients in understanding the full ramifications of any and all of your legal needs. Please feel free to call us at your earliest convenience to schedule a consultation at 1800 770 780. 



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