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What is a Prayer for Relief?

Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Timothy Tonkin with Phillips Law Group.

What is a Prayer for Relief?
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A prayer for relief is the legal term for the part of a civil letter of complaint or lawsuit in which the desired solutions to the problem are listed. In many cases, a prayer for relief may contain requests for compensation regarding expenses caused by a negligent party, or even an injunction to prevent the defendant from behaving similarly in the future.

Prayers for relief are generally only included in civil claims; however, victims of criminal behavior may also be eligible to receive certain damages at the successful conclusion of a criminal case. That said, in many cases, it is possible to pursue both a criminal and civil claim for the same situation, and civil claims generally offer a better chance at financial recovery.

Prayers for relief generally include requests for compensation regarding the damages the plaintiff suffered.

Damages is a term used to refer to losses experienced by the plaintiff in a civil claim. Damages may include the financial cost of medical bills and lost wages, or the cost of a product that turned out to be defective. Damages can be wide-ranging and vary from case to case depending on the type of harm that occurred and how long that harm will hypothetically affect the plaintiff’s life. In general, damages fall into one of four categories:

  • Compensatory damages: Compensatory damages generally refer to the financial or personal losses suffered by the plaintiff as a direct result of the defendant’s illicit behavior or negligent conduct. Medical bills as the result of an injury, lost wages suffered in time spent recovering, and even mental anguish or pain and suffering may be considered relevant compensatory damages in a civil claim.
  • Punitive damages: Punitive damages are not particularly common, and are generally only awarded when a defendant behaved with gross negligence in regard to the plaintiff’s wellbeing. These damages are intended as a punishment to deter the defendant from behaving in the same way in the future.
  • Nominal damages: Nominal damages are also not particularly common, but they may occur when no real losses occurred to the plaintiff but the defendant is still decided to have behaved wrongly. In this case, the plaintiff may receive a small amount of money that is more symbolic than compensatory as a way to show the court that the defendant was decided to be in the wrong.
  • Injunctive relief: Injunctive relief is not exactly a damage so much as it is a request for an order to be made preventing the defendant from engaging in similar conduct in the future. Injunctive relief often includes a verdict by a judge declaring that an individual or company’s conduct has been wrong or negligent, and a public statement that they will not be allowed to continue with that conduct in the future.

Prayers for relief often include a request for a jury trial to resolve the issue.

For a case to go to trial it must first be approved by a judge, and must not have already been settled out of court. When a letter of complaint is written, it generally includes allegations on behalf of the plaintiff, a display of key evidence regarding the issue, as well as a prayer for relief at the end which may include both damages and a request for a trial by jury.

A jury is a group of 12 randomly selected and vetted individuals responsible for evaluating evidence in a case to decide whether the defendant should be held liable for the plaintiff’s damages. Jury trials play a vital role in the United States justice system and is intended to prevent bias from interfering with a just verdict. A prayer for relief may also include the cost of hiring an attorney and any legal fees associated with the case to be paid by the defendant if the plaintiff receives a successful verdict.

To learn more about prayers for relief, reach out to a civil law attorney.

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