Statutory damages are a very specific type of damages that are issued in some contract lawsuits. They are based on the requirements and guidelines that are listed in state statutes. Thus, they can often vary by state, and can sometimes vary by local jurisdiction as well. In many cases, the amount recovered is determined by the statute, rather than any calculations made in court.
Statutory damages are generally issued as required by the law. Thus, the only proof that is required is that the defendant violated the law in question. They are often issued in cases involving:
- Breaches of copyright law and other intellectual property statutes
- Violations involving public policy
- Certain landlord/tenant lawsuits (such as those involving statutory requirements for deposits)
Other types of damages such as compensatory damages are often based on the losses incurred by the plaintiff. They are usually calculated with the aim of reimbursing the non-breaching party for losses caused by a breach. On the other hand, statutory damages can sometimes act more like a civil fine, as the focus is on the violation committed. The reason for this is that it is sometimes difficult to actually calculate the amount that the plaintiff may have lost. If this is the case, then the statute “fills in” the amount accordingly.
Contract statutes can often be quite difficult to understand. You may wish to hire a contract lawyer if you need help interpreting a statute in your area. Your lawyer can explain how the law may affect your case, and can also provide you with advice on how to pursue a claim. Your attorney will be able to represent you during court and can provide guidance during trial.