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Special Damages versus General Damages

“Damages” refers to the amount of money a plaintiff may be entitled to as a result of some civil wrong committed by a defendant (e.g., breach of contract, breach of trust, trespass, personal injury, etc.). “General damages” are those that flow as a natural and necessary result of the act complained of, whereas “special damages” are damages which actually result from the act by reason of the special circumstances of the case and not as a necessary result of the act. Porter v. Crawford & Co. 611 S.W.2d 462, 271 (Mo. Ct. App. 1980). Special damages may be of a monetary nature, but that is not always the case . 

In practice, special damages must be specifically pleaded and asserted in a lawsuit. By way of example, attorney fees are considered special damages that must be pleaded specifically and requested. Bailey v. Hawthorn Bank, 382 S.W.3d 84, 107 (Mo. Ct. App. 2012). In general breach of contract matters, a plaintiff can recover special damages that have been pleaded and made known to the person who breaches the contract (e.g., financial loss which results indirectly from the failure to perform the contract such as loss of an escrow deposit in a real estate context). Allen v. Foster, 668 S.W.2d 277, 280 (Mo. Ct. App. 1984).  Medical expenses are a further example of special damages that must be included in a lawsuit. 

If the special damages are not explicitly mentioned in the lawsuit, then they are generally not recoverable. Contact with questions.