was a kid I could not step on the crack between slabs of sidewalk. No, I was not afraid of breaking my mother’s back.
I did not like breaking the symmetry while I walked. I liked walking evenly between the slabs.
On day, I was explaining my need to not step on the cracks to my babysitter.
Her answer to me was “what would happen to you if you stepped on the crack?” Then, she had me do it a few times so that I could see that there were not any consequences to stepping on the cracks and I would not be damaged in anyway.
From that day on, I was able to step on the cracks and not worry about the lack of symmetry anymore.
In litigation, it is always critical to ask what the consequences were or what damages were suffered.
My favorite saying to prospective clients is that there are two parts to every case, liability and damages.
To win your case, you must prove both.
In fact, just about every cause of action (your reason to sue) in Civil Court dictates that you must prove damages.
Why do you have to prove damages?
Imagine you are selling your house. Someone agrees to buy your house for $500K. A contract is signed. Then, the buyer decides he doesn’t want to buy the house and refuses to do so.
Before you sue the buyer, you put the house back on the market. You immediately find a buyer willing to pay 750K.
Even though the original buyer breached the contract by not buying the house, you ended up with an extra 250K.
Thus, you can prove liability, buyer breached the contract, but you cannot prove damages because you ended up with more money than if the buyer had not breached the contract.
I also frequently get calls asking if they can sue because someone was inconvenienced for a few hours or a few days and I always ask, “But what did it cost you?” And they never can articulate anything beyond that they were annoyed.
Some causes of action also require special damages. Special damages are more than money. These can be:
- Loss of profits, business opportunities, or contacts
- Loss of product or business property
- Damage or harm to business reputation
- Loss of operating revenue (for example, if a business did not open on the scheduled date because construction was not completed)
- Loss of time or other inconveniences
Like damages, if you cannot prove the special damages then you cannot win your case, EVEN IF YOU LOST MONEY.
Lastly, and I cannot stress this enough, if you are damaged, you have to be able to prove it.
If you pay someone 10K, in cash, to do work and they abscond with the money, you won’t be able to win your case if you cannot produce proof you handed over the 10K
So remember, even if your contract was breached or you were assaulted, or stolen from, you will not win your case unless you can prove you were damaged.
Thank you for reading, my business is to protect your business!
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