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What are aggravated and exemplary damages in general assault cases including sexual abuse?

When there is a matter of public liability, there may be a number of situations in which damages are awarded to a claimant. These include aggravated and exemplary damages, which you may hear mentioned in certain circles.

The first thing to understand is that these types of damages, in particular, are extremely uncommon and unlikely to be awarded in most issues of liability, public or otherwise.

Is there a difference?

There is a slight difference between aggravated damages and exemplary damages, though they are often used in concert.

According to the New South Wales Civil Trials Bench Book, aggravated damages are an additional form of compensation paid in select circumstances, such as when a defendant's behaviour or negligence was well beyond even standard liability measures, which result from a more extreme behaviour either initially or after the incident.

Exemplary damages are those granted to a claimant in similar cases to where one might expect aggravated damages. However, as the name suggests, they are typically applied when the court itself strongly disapproves of the behaviour in question, and wants to make an example of the defendant to those who might behave similarly in the future.

What to keep in mind

The Australian Law Reform Commission points out that often, these types of damages overlap, though exemplary damages typically rely far more on the defendant's motivations than aggravated damages, which are typically reserved for "humiliating" circumstances such as invasion of privacy.

Another feature they have in common is that they will typically be awarded in situations in which other types of damages are not considered sufficient. As such, it may be necessary to prove why an act at the centre of a liability case was outrageous, cruel or reckless enough to warrant either or both of aggravated and exemplary damages.

Because these types of damages are so rarely awarded, one must remember that they are may only be appropriate in the most extreme cases. If you believe you may be entitled to such damages stemming from a public liability incident, get in touch with the legal experts at Gerard Malouf & Partners. With over 35 years of experience with personal injury compensation cases, our No Win No Fee program and a 90-day complementary trial, you can rest assured we will assess all your options and give you the guidance you need to take the next step.

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Gerard Malouf & Partners
 — Personal Injury Compensation Lawyers

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