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Actual Damages are real damages to compensate for loss or injuries that have actually occurred. This is in contrast to "nominal" damages (a small amount paid where there is no real loss) or "punitive" damages (intended to punish the party who must pay damages).

When damages, which have been suffered by someone as a result of another's wrongdoing, can be precisely measured, they are called actual damages. Examples of actual damages are:

Loss of income because of an injury * medical expenses * costs of repairing damaged property, and * specific business losses occurring because of a breach of a contract.

Actual damages are rarely awarded in family law cases, although some states now allow a parent to recover from his child's other parent the actual damages suffered if thwarted when trying to exercise visitation rights. An example is the visiting parent who buys a non-refundable plane ticket to have his child visit him, only to find out that the child has suddenly been shipped off to his grandmother's.