In the previous context of the sentence below the disaster that caused the damage and displacement of people is clearly identified and I'd like to avoid repeating it again, but I'd still like to specify that I'm referring to the "damage at hand" caused by an event that is being talked about:

After people have been taken care of, the team focused its efforts on repairing the damage sustained/incurred

Damage incurred sounds better to me, and I was also thinking about inflicted, but I'm not sure whether this word is applicable if the damaged object referred to is not human.

And my other question about this is whether putting incurred in front of the noun damage works here: "...repairing the incurred damage"

  • incurred and sustained seem pretty synonymous here, but inflicted would seem to reference a human attacker and target – BladorthinTheGrey Aug 7 '16 at 9:18

Consider the definitions:

Sustain verb 2 Undergo or suffer (something unpleasant, especially an injury) - ODO

Incur verb Become subject to (something unwelcome or unpleasant) as a result of one’s own behaviour or actions - ODO

inflict verb 1 Cause (something unpleasant or painful) to be suffered by someone or something - ODO

If the damage was malicious (someone else purposely caused the damage), then you might the damage was inflicted on them. If they brought the problem on themselves, then you can talk about the damage incurred. If the damage was caused by a natural catastrophe, it was simply damage sustained by them.

The terms damage incurred and damage suffered may also be contrasted in a legal sense, as described in the article When Does "Incurred" Mean "Incurred" for Insurance and Reinsurance Purposes? by Larry Schiffer. Note that the term damage may have a more narrow / specialist legal definition here than in the usage described in the paragraphs above.

  • And in 515 Ave. I Tenants Corp. v. Gutman Mgmt. Co., 29 Misc. 3d 1228A (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Kings Co. 2010) (citations omitted), a Brooklyn trial court distinguished between damages suffered and cost or damage incurred. The court stated that "suffered" means paid while "incurred" means become liable for.

  • To resolve the appeal, the circuit court had to construe the meaning of "incurred" under New York law. New York law, held the court, defines "incurred" for insurance purposes as "to become liable or subject to." Thus, found the court, liability for a charge begins at the time of the treatment for which the charge is imposed. The court held that the insured may be considered liable for a charge even if the insured does not ultimately pay that charge in full or in part.

  • 1
    Thank you very much Lawrence, that is perfect! I'd felt that "incurred" wasn't fitting well my sentence, and I know why it doesn't. I obviously need "sustained" for damages caused by natural disasters. Or "suffered", although it doesn't suggest any payments made by anyone, "the damage" is simply "suffered", an area suffered damages from a natural disaster. – Rejlan Givens Aug 7 '16 at 14:34

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