When pursuing a Florida defamation case, there are multiple types of defamation damages that you can legally seek. With an experienced defamation attorney on your side, you can not only seek these damages, but you can also be awarded them!
Florida Defamation Damages: Defamation Damages You Can Legally Seek
Actual Damages or Compensatory
Referred to as both compensatory damages and actual damages, these damages are damages incurred as a result of defamation against you that can be calculated exactly. In a defamation case, actual damages may include things like wages lost, future earnings lost, lost economic opportunities, loss of future employment opportunity and lost business as a result of defamation.
Other more unique actual damages may include:
- Loss of clients if you are self-employed
- Mental health treatment required as a result of defamation
- Medical health treatment required as a result of defamation
- Employment benefits lost as a result of losing your job after defamation (including health insurance, 401(k) contributions, and vacation time)
Calculating Actual Damages
Hiring a defamation attorney doesn’t just mean that you will have an attorney to assist you in filing your defamation suit, but it means that you will have an attorney to help you to determine actual damages.
Calculating actual damages can be tricky and it depends heavily on the facts and details of your case as to how your actual damages are calculated. If you have retained a defamation attorney, they may well have you consult an economics expert who can perform an economic damage analysis to determine the actual damages that apply in your case.
When considering wages in calculating actual damages, in MOST cases, the damages that are calculated are the difference that results from your actual earnings versus your projected earnings as a result of the actions of the defamer.
This means that we would begin with a projection of your revenue taking into consideration your life expectancy and your age at retirement. This is calculated by looking at your historical earnings before the incident took place. Then we would calculate your projected earnings or wages after the defamation takes place. We then compare the two sets of figures and the difference between the projected earnings based on your historical earnings and your projected earnings based on projected earnings after the defamation took place, is the amount of your actual damages.
Depending on the type of case and the details of the case, sometimes damages can be mitigated. This is where a defendant can reduce the amount of damages that they are required to pay by performing a specific action. Most often this happens when newspapers publish a story that is defamatory and then mitigate the damage by publishing a retraction or correction to the original article.
When mitigating damages, a defendant must provide a written statement of their intention to publish a retraction when answering the original defamation suit. If the deadline for answering the filed suit passes and the defendant does not provide written notice of intent to publish a retraction, they may not take advantage of the opportunity to mitigate damages by publishing a retraction.
It is not only the plaintiff who may mitigate damages in a defamation suit, however. It’s worth noting that a defendant can also seek to have damages mitigated in certain circumstances. For example, if a plaintiff lost their job after being defamed by the defendant but the plaintiff was later offered another job for half the pay of the original job but they did not take it, the defendant may ask for the damages to be reduced by half based on the job offer that was rejected.
Punitive damages are not included in compensatory or actual damages. These types of damages are designed to serve as a deterrent to make the defaming party think twice about defaming someone in the future. They are also a method of showing that this type of behavior is not acceptable under the law.
To receive punitive damages, a plaintiff must be able to show that the defamer acted with malice or in fraud.
While compensatory or actual damages are awarded quite frequently, punitive damages are not awarded as often in defamation cases.
It’s also important to know that not all jurisdictions permit for punitive damages in defamation cases.
Assumed damages are sometimes referred to as presumed damages. These are damages that are presumed to exist as a result of the defamation that took place. In the case of assumed damages, a plaintiff does not have to prove actual damages. These types of damages are generally awarded for immeasurable consequences of the defamation, for example, the same felt by the individual who has been defamed.
Assumed damages are available in cases of libel but not slander.
Need Assistance Seeking Florida Defamation Damages?
If you need an experienced Florida defamation attorney on your side to help you to win your case, Weidner Law can help! Just pick up the phone and dial 727-954-8752 to make your consultation appointment today and get started on your way to winning your case!