If you are looking for the average defamation settlement amount then you are in the right place for sure.
When one makes a false statement that injures another’s reputation, it is considered to be defamation. Usually, defamation lawsuits settle well before trial.
Why You Should Settle Out Of Court
Generally, defamation cases are settled out of court for a variety of reasons. For instance, lawsuits are expensive, their results are unpredictable, and resolving one can take ages. However, you can reach a settlement either after the discovery period is concluded or before the lawsuit is filed through negotiations. And, your case may also be resolved due to mediation or arbitration.
How Much You Should Settle For?
Though this may be your first question, it has no simple answer. Obviously, you will want to receive much more money than the opposite party is willing to shell out. So, to have an honest estimate of the damages you suffered, the best way is to calculate them. If you can’t calculate this on your own, seek the help of an expert.
At this point, it’s important for you to know that the damages awarded in such cases can be varied and generally belong to two main categories:
- Economic Damages
- Non-economic Damages
Economic damages include the loss of earnings, earnings you might lose in future and business opportunities you might have lost due to defamatory statements made against you. Since you are the plaintiff, you will have to provide necessary information about the clients you have lost and the number of clients you could have got in the future before you were defamed.
You can also seek damages if you cannot find a new job or if you have lost your job due to such statements or if you are unable to get your old job back again.
You can also seek damages if you have suffered certain medical or mental damage for which you needed treatment. To prove this, bills should be presented in court and the payout recovered. Besides this, earnings lost due to the loss of your job, health insurance, pensions, 401k contributions and vacation time should also be factored into the settlement value.
Non-economic damages include the physical pain and suffering you might go through in personal injury cases. Often, this far exceeds physical and mental suffering and can encompass anxiety, general listlessness.
This can be proved by quoting instances of anger, sleep disturbances, loss of energy or appetite, etc. These symptoms and the extent of the damage they do to defamed individuals influences the amount of settlement they receive.
Calculating The Settlement Payout In A Defamation Suit
The settlement payout of a defamation suit begins when an expert calculates the actual damages suffered by the complainant. This comprises the losses you suffer relating to your business, profession or occupation, and expenses that you bore due to the defamatory statements. This being a tort cause of action, damages including emotional distress also come in for compensation.
For example, if due to the defamatory speech, you lost your job. To calculate your past lost earnings, add your earnings and your employment benefits which you’ve lost because you’re unemployed now. So, if you would have earned $80,000 in that year, by being out of a job you lost that $80,000 + benefits.
Calculating Lost Earning Capacity
Assuming again that your income was $60,000 but after losing your job, you could find another for just $30,000. You reckon it will take you five years to make up the lost money. To calculate your lost opportunities isn’t easy. It needs the help of an expert.
Next, in the case of assumed damages, you need to discuss punitive damages, if any. These damages are levied to punish the defendant for his or her shameful conduct. In the process, they increase your settlement award considerably. Your attorney’s fees can also be added here.
By adding up all that these damages amount to, you get a fair idea of how much you can claim. You can also add the analysis of your damages with any other settlements from other defamation cases. The next step is to discount the entire total you reach due to the costs, time and risk involved in settling quickly.
Take care not to quote too high a figure which could be rejected outright without any negotiations. And don’t go so low that it becomes obvious that you want to get out of the case as soon as possible. Choose the middle ground and speak confidently and boldly for a fair settlement.
If you can’t negotiate the right payout, leave it to your advocate to do. Or you might have to go home with a much smaller compensation sum than is legitimately due to you.