Defamation can cause significant damage to the victim’s reputation. After filing a defamation case, there are chances that you may be unaware of your case’s worth -either during the settlement or during the trial.
The damage done by libel or slander in a defamation action is frequently measured in damages, typically classified into two categories: damages that can be precisely calculated (commonly referred to as special damages) and damages that cannot be perfectly calculated.
Click here to get the best legal help for your personal injury claim.
1. Special damages (Economic Damages)
These can and are usually quantified to the dollar. Special damages are known as damages that one can calculate precisely.
Any lost wages, future lost earning potential, and other lost commercial or economic prospects that the plaintiff in a defamation lawsuit has already experienced or is anticipated to experience due to the defamatory remark are all eligible for damages.
If the plaintiff is a self-employed person, lost economic possibilities may also include losses like losing present clients or having a reasonable prospect of losing clients in the future. Whether the plaintiff is self-employed, lost economic prospects may also include the plaintiff’s incapacity to find a new position if they lost their previous work due to defamatory statements.
Similar to a typical personal injury lawsuit, the claimant is entitled to claim damages for their medical bills and expenditures if they were incurred as a consequence of the defamatory comments.
The terms “lost earnings” and “lost earning capability” refer to the income (i.e., wages or salaries) that the victim has lost or would lose in the past, present, or future as a result of the libel. Any work advantages the victim may have lost, such as health insurance, paid time off, a pension, and the like, are also counted as lost wages and earning ability.
2. Non-Economic Damages
In some defamation instances, the plaintiff may also be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, which can make up a sizable portion of compensation in a personal injury case.
In libel cases, pain and suffering can also encompass mental agony, emotional discomfort, loss of enjoyment of life, and anxiousness, in addition to physical pain and suffering. Significant mental anguish can also lead to extreme rage, loss of appetite, fatigue, dysfunctional sexual behavior, mood fluctuations, and/or sleep difficulties.
In defamation lawsuits, non-economic damages may also include
- Harm to the victim’s status and standing in society, as well as embarrassment.
- Humiliation on a personal level.
The right to receive non-economic damages is not always available to defamation litigants. For example, some governments limit the recovery of non-economic damages for slander (spoken defamation) victims to situations where they sustained economic losses or if the defamatory statement:
- Blamed the victim for committing a crime,
- said that the victim had a contagious or disgusting illness,
- or penalized the victim in their line of work.
Proving Damages in defamation case
In cases like defamatory, courts will assume that users have suffered harm without them proving it. For example, some courts will presume that your reputation was harmed if someone falsely claims the following.
- Suffer from communicable disease
- Committed a crime
- Engaged in inappropriate sexual contact, or
- Lack of professional integrity or competence
Courts do not have formulae for calculating assumed damages. Some victims may receive millions of dollars, while some may even receive little damages as low as $1.
Victims who have to prove their harm rely on their testimony and witnesses to verify that the defendant’s statements are false and resulted in personal and economic harm. They may also provide documents like tax returns, bank statements, medical receipts, and records to get a good grip on their claims.
Is it worth suing?
It will be worth filing a defamation lawsuit if you have suffered from financial losses due to someone spreading lies about you. For example, if you can prove that you have been expelled from a job because someone falsely accused you of being a “creep” or “perv,” then you must talk to a lawyer. Not only will you receive compensation for the financial losses, but it will also vindicate your good name.
Further, filing a lawsuit will also bring more attention to the false statements they have gotten had you not sued. You will have to risk winning your lawsuit by receiving nominal damages.
Determining the damages’ worth depends on your particular case’s facts. Generally, victims hire an expert to perform damage analysis.
With respect to the plaintiff’s losses in profession or business, the damages will be measured by the difference between their actual earnings and the projected earnings.
So the first step in determining damages is to protect the plaintiff’s earnings based on their life expectancy and retirement. In order to do that, the expert should first analyze the plaintiff’s historical income. After that, the expert can calculate the future earnings and revenue based on the plaintiff’s damaged reputation.
You may think this is not an exact science. It contains calculated speculation. The expert relies on various factors–which include the plaintiff’s W-2s and income tax returns, state of industry and state of the economy in which they are engaged–and the plaintiff’s business calendar, and salary of other people in the same industry who have training and education similar to the plaintiff.
Damages can also be mitigated or lowered by the defendant. For example, few states allow defendants to mitigate by issuing a retraction. But, in order to take advantage of the doctrine, courts generally need that the defendant informs the plaintiff about the writing of the intent to issue the retraction before the deadline for filing the defendant’s response to the lawsuit.
The plaintiff also has the duty to mitigate damages. If the plaintiff loses a job due to defamation and may have gone for another job for lesser pay, but did not go, then the defendant might not get the legal hook for the portion the plaintiff would have transaction by taking the lesser-paying job.