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Latin, a maxim of tort law. Injury without damage, or wrongful action without loss.

If an individual's personal rights are violated in some way which does not cause provable damage, legal action may still be taken against the party who violated those rights. Rights are to be legally protected, even if a specific instance of their infringement does not result in recognizable harm or loss to the person whose rights are violated.

Example of this maxim being applied:

Suppose a state guarantees every adult the right to vote in elections, but a state official prevents a specific person from voting. That person was going to vote for the candidate who eventually lost the election, by a margin greater than a single vote. The voter's right has been violated, but the outcome of this had no affect on the election. No provable loss or damage has occurred to the voter, nor to the candidate for whom they intended to vote.

The voter nonetheless has a right to seek legal action against the state official who infringed upon their right to vote, and the official may be punished for this infringement, especially if it is found that it was done with malicious intent toward the voter or the losing candidate.

Example where this maxim would not apply:

If a police officer prevents a drunk individual from operating a motor vehicle, while not visiting physical or material harm against that individual, then this maxim does not apply: driving in this case is a privilege, not a protected right, and driving while drunk would be illegal and actively dangerous to the public. The officer is obligated to protect the public. If a person is prevented from exercising a privilege, and no law is broken nor any personal legally-protected right is violated by this preventative action, injuria sine damno does not apply.

Example of this maxim being misapplied:

If a driver performs a rolling stop through a crosswalk filled with pedestrians, but no pedestrian is stricken, one might argue injuria sine damno, because no personal harm occurred to any individual as a result of the driver's wrongful action. The stop sign and other traffic laws which apply here, however, do not constitute personal rights of an individual; rather they are the statutes of the state which placed those traffic signals. As a result, the driver has broken a law, and can expect legal action to be taken against them. The same legal action would be taken even if the crosswalk had been completely empty.

Iron Noder 2015, 08/30

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