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What Are General Damages?

General damages is a type of legal term which is used in situations where monetary retribution is sought for damages which cannot be priced in any conventional way - for example, grief and emotions, as well as missed opportunities in some cases (though they traditionally have their own separate type of cases). Other types of damages included in the scope of general damages include a degraded reputation and distress.

It can be somewhat difficult to determine the precise rightful amount that needs to be paid to the victims in these cases - usually, victims will state their own demands and the judge overseeing the case would determine if they are within reasonable bounds, though sometimes the court itself may be assigned to determine the amount to be paid to the victim. Additionally, any physical factors (such as pain and suffering) can attribute to a claim for general damages, in cases where they were tied to an action which caused emotional damage as well.

The flexibility of the term "general damages" has lead to a recent influx of cases where plaintiffs have claimed general damages in cases where they clearly weren't eligible for such, and proceeded to make generally untrue claims attempting to obtain money unrightfully. Such cases have lead to various adjustments in the laws related to general damages in some jurisdictions, and currently it can be quite challenging to prove such a claim depending on the circumstances. Plaintiffs usually need to prepare their cases very carefully and thoroughly before proceeding.

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