Defamation Damages: What are they?
How much money can judges award slander and libel victims? The answer depends on several factors, including (but not limited to):
- The amount of money you, the plaintiff, lost as a direct result of the defamatory statement;
- Your public “status”( under U.S. law, there are different rules for “public figures” and “private citizens”); and
- The slander and libel laws of the presiding jurisdiction.
Caveats aside, state statutes must adhere to federal standards. So, let’s take a look at how damages work in defamation lawsuits.
What Are Damages, Legally Speaking?
Legal damages are the monetary awards a plaintiff can win to compensate for pain and loss caused by the defendants’ actions. In a successful slander or libel lawsuit, claimants are typically granted one or more types of damages: compensatory, speculative, consequential, and punitive.
Compensatory Defamation Damages
Also called actual damages, compensatory damages are the monies parties lose as a direct result of defendants’ actions.
People who lose their jobs or suffer business slowdowns, because of a defamatory statement, can claim lost wages as a compensatory damage.
Speculative Defamation Damages
Speculative damages are likely losses plaintiffs have yet to incur. In slander and libel lawsuits, courts award speculative damages for:
- Lost business due to a defamatory online review;
- Lost job opportunity;
- Any cost a business must to pay, singular to its industry, as a result of defamation.
Consequential Defamation Damages
Consequential damages represent the amount of money a plaintiff would have made if an act of defamation hadn’t be committed. A plaintiff can also argue for consequential damages when the defendants’ actions result in more costs.
For example, in past online defamation cases, judges have awarded plaintiffs money to “clean up” online reputation messes left in the defendants’ wakes.
Punitive Defamation Damages
Punitive damages are meant to dissuade defendants from defaming someone in the future. Additionally, they signal that flagrant defamation is not OK in the eyes of the law.
In defamation cases, judges don’t award punitive damages as regularly as speculative, consequential, or compensatory damages. Some jurisdictions don’t even allow punitive damages in slander and libel cases.
Defamation can be devastating. These days, libel spreads quicker than fake news on Facebook; therefore, defamation victims should start proceedings quickly. Sometimes, a mere cease and desist defamation letter is enough to motivate adversaries to remove the offending material.
Contact us today if you’re ready to deal with a defamation situation. We’ve helped hundreds of people solve their libel challenges; our rates are reasonable, and we get the job done quickly and effectively.