When you lodge a defamation lawsuit, it may be necessary to itemize the kind of damages you are claiming. You also need to ensure the damages you are claiming are legally recognized. Courts typically classify defamation damages in three ways, namely:
Actual damages are those that stem directly from the defamatory statements made against you. There are three major categories of actual damages, and they include:
- Lost money or missed earning opportunities – For example, you may lose money when you are demoted, denied a promotion, or when you lose a business contract due to the defamatory statements.
- Out-of-pocket expenses – These are the expenditures you wouldn't have incurred without the defamation issue, for example, psychiatric bills.
- Psychological or emotional hurt – These also form part of actual damages because they stem directly from the false statements made about you, but quantifying them isn't easy.
Punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant. Whether a punitive damage is awarded depends on the seriousness of the allegations the defendant made against you. The court is likely to award punitive damages if the allegations were extremely damning and will probably affect you for the rest of your life, or a good part of it. For example, if the defendant accused you of sexual crimes against children, you may convince the court to award punitive damages since that is a very serious crime. Punitive damages are also awarded in cases where the defendant knew what they were doing, that is, if they intentionally made the defamatory statements knowing they were false.
These are damages that an average person expects to stem from defamatory statements. As such, they are assumed to exist and you don't have to prove them. All you need to do is to prove that the defendant made defamatory publications about you and the assumed damages will follow.
For example, it's clear to everyone that defamation leads to hurt feelings or damage to reputation. Therefore, if someone labels you a thief, which you aren't, it's automatically assumed that your reputation has been damaged. Therefore, you don't have to prove this damage to reputation; you will automatically be compensated for it.
These are some of the damages to expect, but there may be others depending on the circumstances of your case. If a person has published defamatory information against you, explain everything to your lawyer and let them help you determine the nature of damages to claim.
For more information, you will want to contact a professional, such as James Lee Katz.