1.1.D.16 Damages

Usage

This definition applies to all payments.

Definition

Damages is the economic value of something lost or withheld. For compensation purposes, damages is the sum awarded for any loss or injury that has been sustained. The liability to pay damages for personal injury or death may arise from:

  • a breach of:
    • contract, OR
    • a statutory duty, OR
  • any of a number of torts.

Explanation: Breaches of responsibility, or wrongs.

Damages are rarely paid by the actual 'wrong doer' and are usually recovered from:

  • an insurer, OR
  • self insurer, OR
  • Government.

Damages are usually awarded as a single lump sum. On arriving at a final figure, however, it is customary to take account of certain conventional types of 'harm', which may have been suffered by the person claiming the damages. The types of harm are:

  • pecuniary heads of damage, usually separated into the periods before and after the date of the judgement (see example 1), AND
  • non-pecuniary heads of damage (see example 2).

Example 1: These can include:

  • loss of earnings/loss of earning capacity,
  • hospital and/or medical costs,
  • aids and/or appliances required, and
  • domestic assistance.

Example 2: These can include:

  • pain and suffering,
  • loss of amenities (sometimes called enjoyment of life or loss of bodily function),
  • disfigurement, and
  • loss of expectation of life.

Act reference: SSAct section 17(1) Compensation recovery definitions

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.1.9 Compensation Provisions, 4.13 Compensation, 6.4 Compensation Recovery

Last reviewed: 6 February 2017