In our often litigious society, people who want to "sue" sometimes
focus solely on the fact that they have been "wronged." In doing
so, they overlook a critical element: Whether they have suffered any "damages."
"Damages" refers to the harm, detriment or injury a person has
suffered as a result of the acts (or failure to act) of another person.
This injury can be to a person or to a person's property.
A perfect example is the potential client who calls complaining that he
found a foreign object in his restaurant food prior to taking a bite.
Has that person been wronged? Absolutely! There should not have been a
foreign object in his food. Has that person been damaged? Absolutely not!
Absent some actual injury from the presence of the foreign object, there
is no claim against the restaurant. Further, there is no claim for "what
could have happened" if he had chewed or swallowed the foreign object.
Even if some measure of damages have been suffered, they may be so minimal
that litigation would not be economically feasible. A potential client
called the other day wanting to file a lawsuit against a vending machine
manufacturer. Apparently, her candy bar got stuck and didn't fall.
After she was playfully advised that a $500 retainer would be required
to try and recover her .75›, she dismissed the idea (but not before
she asked whether we'd take the case on a contingency basis!).