Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Damnum Absque Injuria Definition:

Latin: harm absent a wrong.

Also presented as damnum sine injuria.

A loss, damages or injury suffered from which there is no legal cause of action.

A Latin law maxim of the Roman law and of the civil law referring to those cases where a loss occurs but in the absence of any wrong.

In January of 2010, Justice Moore of the Court of Appeals of California wrote (in Catsouras):

"A tort, whether intentional or negligent, involves a violation of a legal duty, imposed by statutecontract or otherwise, owed by the defendant to the person injured. Without such a duty, any injury is damnum absque injuria - injury without wrong.

"Thus, in order to prove facts sufficient to support a finding of negligence, a plaintiff must show that defendant had a duty to use due care, that he breached that duty, and that the breach was the proximate or legal cause of the resulting injury.

"Because liability for negligence turns on whether a duty of care is owed, our first task is to determine whether a duty exists in the present case."

Alexander Burrill defines it as:

“A loss without a wrong; that kind of damage for which an action will not lie.”

Burrill gives as an example the opening of a competitor business near another thus causing economic loss to the original business but for which there is no wrong - no wrongful action from which to ground seek compensation in tort or civil liability.

A better example is where the damages or loss is caused by an act of God.


  • Burrill, A., Law Dictionary and Glossary, Vol. I (New York: Baker, Voorhis & Co., Law Publishers, 1867), page 420.
  • Catsouras v. Department of California Highway Patrol, 181 Cal. App. 4th 856 (Court of Appeals of California)

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