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The cardinal principle of damages in Anglo-American law is that of compensation for the injury caused to plaintiff by defendant's breach of duty. There are other traditional strains. Where the injury is intended, or involves a wrong more flagrant than negligence, exemplary or punitive damages are sometimes allowed (in addition to compensatory damages) for the purpose of deterrence, and perhaps for vindication. Where the cause of action is complete without a showing of actual damage (as for breach of contract, assault and battery, or trespass to land), then nominal damages may be awarded even when the proof shows no actual damages. These other strains, however, play an insignificant part in accident law--at least theoretically.

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Damages in Accident Cases, 41 Cornell L. Q. 582 (1956)

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