Defamation Damages: A Legal Guide For Slander and Libel Lawsuits

When you file a defamation lawsuit you must outline how the defamatory material caused you harm or financial misfortune. So, when debating whether or not to file a slander or libel claim, it’s important to consider how the material in question caused you loss — in any and every way. Be aware that the state in which you live will factor into what defamation damages you can claim, but the list below covers the allowed types in most of the 50 states.

What Are Damages, Legally Speaking?

Legal damages are just like physical damages. They represent the pain, hurt or loss an individual or a business experiences when wronged. In litigation lexicon, damages are the awards – usually monetary – that a plaintiff can win for the pains and loss caused.

Damages are separated into different categories, and statutes determine what categories of defamation can be claimed for a given actionable offense.

Compensatory Defamation Damages

Also called actual damages, compensatory damages are the monies an individual or company loses as a direct result of the defendant’s actions. Expectation damages, which are similar, are often used in contract law.

If you lose your job because of defamation you can absolutely claim lost wages as a compensatory damage. If you know that you didn’t get a job because of slander or libel, you can also file for lost wages, either as a compensatory damage or a consequential damage (explained below), depending on what your attorney thinks would be best in your jurisdiction.

Speculative Defamation Damages

Speculative damages are those that have not yet been incurred by the plaintiff, but will most likely occur in the future as a result of the defendant’s wrong-doing. In a slander or libel lawsuit, speculative damages could be awarded for:

1) Lost business due to a defamatory review on Yelp! or other review site;

2) Lost job because an employer decided not to hire you because of  a defamatory comment they found on Facebook or another social networking platform;

3) Any cost that you or your business will have to pay, singular to your industry, as a result of the defamation.

Consequential Defamation Damages

Consequential damages can either be calculated by estimating the amount of money the plaintiff would have made if it were not for the actions of the defendant. A plaintiff can also make an argument for consequential damages if the action of the defendant will result in more costs.

For example, in an online defamation case, it’s possible to argue and ask for damages to hire an online reputation management company to clean up any defamation that may have gone viral.

Punitive Defamation Damages

The role of punitive damages is to dissuade the defendant from ever engaging in the same type of behavior in the future. They also serve to make a point to the public at large that the activity of the defendant will not be met kindly by the courts.

In defamation cases, punitive damages are not awarded as regularly as speculative, consequential or compensatory damages. Also, depending on what state the case is filed will determine whether or not you’ll be able to try for punitive damages.

Defamation Litigation

Defamation can devastate a reputation or business. The viral nature of the Internet makes libel spread quicker than lice in a pre-school class. If you want to contain the damage, the most effective way is to start defamation proceedings. Sometimes, a mere cease and desist defamation letter is enough to have your adversaries step down and remove the offending material.

If you’re ready to engage a person or entity that published defamatory material, by filing an online defamation lawsuit, contact us today. We’ve helped hundreds of others with their defamation litigation needs, our rates are reasonable, and we always aim to get the job done as quickly and effectively as possible. We look forward to assisting you with your situation.

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