Damages, in law is a somewhat paradoxical term. It is used to refer both to the harm suffered by a plaintiff in a civil action, and to any monies paid or awarded to him to compensate for said harm.
Generally, there are three kinds of damages: special damages, general damages, and punitive damages. Special damages are the enumerable or quantifiable monetary costs or losses suffered by the plaintiff, or the compensation therefore. For example, medical costs, repair or replacement of damaged property, lost wages, lost earning potential, loss of business, loss of irreplaceable items, loss of support, etc. General damages are items of harm or loss suffered, for which only a subjective value may be attached. Examples of this might be pain, physical suffering, emotional trauma or suffering, loss of companionship, loss of consortium, disfigurement, loss of reputation, loss or impairment of mental or physical capacity, loss of enjoyment of life, etc.
A special case is punitive damages. Generally, punitive damages are not awarded in order to compensate the plaintiff, but in order to reform or deter the defendant and similar persons from pursuing a course of action such as that which damaged the plaintiff. Punitive damages are awarded only in special cases. Great judicial restraint is expected to be exercised in their application.