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Damnum Infectum

A term used in Roman law to denote damage not actually done, but apprehended on account of the dangerous condition of neighbouring property. If proceedings were not taken before damage had been done, the injured party had no action for damages subsequently; if, e. g. a ruinous house (aedes ruinosae) fell and damaged a neighbour before a cautio had been demanded, all the right that the damaged person had was to retain the materials that had fallen on his land (Dig. 39, 2, 6.7. 2.8). Gaius states that a party who apprehended damage might have recourse to a legis actio in order to protect himself, but that the stipulatio damni infecti provided by the praetor in his edict for such cases was always sought as being the more convenient remedy (Gaius, iv. 31).

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