AIPS Paralegal certificate program: Tort law
This week we explore how the theories of compensation taught in the AIPS paralegal certificate program could affect the Sandusky sexual assault case. As we all know, Jerry Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse. So what comes next? As far as the criminal trial, the defendant plans to file an appeal which could take many months. The next big case will be the civil case filed by the victims against Sandusky and Penn State. This will be a civil case and the victims will expect compensation for their “injuries” and suffering. The Torts class in the AIPS paralegal certificate program examines the three main types of damages.
The three main types of damages are compensatory damages, punitive damages and nominal damages. Compensatory damages are awarded to compensate the plaintiff for his/her actual harm. These damages are intended to make the plaintiff whole. Practically speaking, this can not happen in the Sandusky case, but the idea is to try. Compensatory damages can be divided into general and special damages. General damages are damages that can be expected to result from the harm caused by the defendant. Some examples are emotional and physical pain and suffering and humiliation. While special damages are awarded for specific economic losses that the plaintiff has suffered. For example, medical costs, loss of income and reduced earning capacity.
Punitive damages are not designed to compensate the plaintiff for harm done. Instead, they serve to punish the defendant for intentional or otherwise egregious conduct. They are intended to defer similar conduct on the part of the defendant and others. These damages are not available for simple negligence cases.
Nominal damages usually consist of a small monetary payment, usually a dollar. They are awarded when the plaintiff’s rights have been violated, but little or no harm resulted. They are inappropriate in negligence cases because actual harm is an element of negligence.
As a paralegal, it is important to understand the three major types of tort compensation. You can learn more about compensation and damages in the Torts class in the AIPS paralegal certificate program.