In a civil court, you must first prove you have been damaged in some way as well as show proof for the dollar amount of said damages or what it will cost to make you whole again. These are the "actual" damages.
Then you must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the person(s) you are suing, is responsible for these damages.
If the damage was done with malice or falls into a description of outrageous conduct on the part of the defendant, then you can also sue for and receive punitive damages which can at times, be well above and beyond the amount of actual damages.
Punitive damages are awarded in order to punish the defendant for their conduct and hopefully teaches them to refrain from repeating such behavior in the future.
If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not turn and bite you for your kindness, but he will stand by your side until death.
This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.